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3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  232 ratings  ·  37 reviews
"Mrs. Flax was happiest when she was leaving a place, but I wanted to stay put long enough to fall down crazy and hear the Word of God. I always called my mother Mrs. Flax."

So begins this extraordinary first novel about one wild year in the life of fourteen-year-old Charlotte Flax, when she and her sister Kate move with Mrs. Flax into a sleepy 1960's Massachusetts town. Mr...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published November 3rd 2004 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 1967)
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Was I the only person in the whole wide universe who did not know this was a book first? I think I was.

I discovered this very interesting read at the local library. I loved the movie and was very excited to make this discovery. Then I read it...

Way darker then the movie to me, though Mrs. Flax seemed to care a bit more that Miss Charlotte was seeing a waaay older man. It was disturbing how old he was really. Speaking of Joe, did anyone else think he was a bit...special? It seemed that he always...more
Joshua Gross
I had always loved the movie Mermaids and when I watched it again yesterday I noticed that it was based on a book. I don't know how I managed to miss that, but I immediately went on to Amazon and got the book to read. The movie was surprisingly true to the book, but there were some parts that weren't in the movie that were just as interesting. I love Mrs. Flax and the fact that she only makes hors d'oeuvres, and the book went into a little more detail. I mean, she goes grocery shopping, she just...more
"I pinched my cheeks for color and tried to keep my eyes open as wide as I could. I wanted to be the most gorgeous woman on the planet Earth, so gorgeous that Joe would kneel in front of the whole town and beg me to run away and live in a teepee with him."

It was strange reading a book that is the original of a movie I have watched countless times and love so much. I didn’t even know it was a book until I happened upon it at the bookstore recently.

I could hear Movie Charlotte’s voice (Winona Ryd...more
Nicola Byrne
I love the concept of this story, but most of it being told through Charlotte ruins it, in my opinion. I would have much preferred to see more dialogue from the likes of Joe and Lou, instead of having to decipher their words through Charlotte’s rambles. This fourteen-year-old girl has some serious problems. Granted she’s a teenager; she’s confused about everything, which is perfectly fine. But she’s also completely neurotic, and her inability to stick to one thought makes this an exhausting read...more
Carol Hardesty
This is a pretty quirky, somewhat realistic coming-of-age story. Though it is pretty sad to see such an innocent girl like Charlotte lose that virtue (and her virginity to boot). The best part was when Mrs. Flax came out in her mermaid costume and she and the girls had real fun for once.
This was such a delightful book. The sort of book you’d reach for when you’re feeling down and want something comforting and funny to read.

It’s told from the perspective of fourteen-year-old Charlotte who’s just moved with her single mother and younger sister to a small town in New England in the early sixties. She’s got an obsession with being virtuous and is constantly struggling with her tendencies of telling lies and, especially, falling in love.

It’s a wonderful coming-of-age story with qui...more
Originally posted here.

I'm going to assume that if you're a woman currently between the ages of about 31-45 you've seen the 1990 Cher/Winona Ryder film Mermaids. If you haven't - WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU? GO RENT THAT ISH RIGHT THIS SECOND!


What I mean to say is that this movie was amazing. Well, maybe not amazing, but it was amazing at the time. It had very little to do with Cher, and instead focused on her young daughter, played by Winona Ryder before she started shoplifting and ha...more
Kevin Nelson
This book is funny, witty, and sharply written, and there's an inspirational story behind it that may interest both students of Patty's writing courses (she teaches writing in New York) and her many readers. Patty and I met when we were both working at the A&E Television network in New York, and while she was there she was re-reading a book she had written but had put away, thinking perhaps it was not quite yet ready to be published. But as she was reading it she found that her manuscript wa...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I have always adored the film starring Cher and Winona Ryder, but I did not know it was a novel until I found a copy at Goodwill.

I now love the novel as much as I love the film. It is a charming and quick read with quirky characters. I loved the setting in Massachusetts and time period it is set in. If you enjoy reading complicated mother/daughter relationships, the one between Mrs. Flax and Charlotte is a great one to read.
Moriah Reyes
Pros. The character, Charlotte is very interesting and funny! Though her obsession is an odd one, the story is about growing up and it is relatable.

Cons. The other characters aren't always believable. The disinterested love interest is only interested in himself. It's very frustrating to listen in on his rambling as he ignores Charlotte. The head honcho nun spills out her entire life story to Charlotte in jerky jumps in monolouge. Mrs. Flax is pleasant only once. (Charlotte and Katies dialouge a...more
Mermaids has been one of my top favorite films ever since I can remember. Alas, the fact it was based on a novel was somehow unknown to me until quite recently, and when it did occur to me I was looking forward to reading it. Nonetheless, it was one of those rare cases in which the adaptation rises above its origin. Reading the novel almost felt like watching the "deleted scenes" part on a DVD, as it features scenes that didn’t make the final cut of the film and from a good reason, apparently, a...more
The original publication date given in the Goodreads description is wrong. This book was first published in the '80s (1986 or 1987), not 1967.
This is another book that I read when I was 13 or 14. I remember not understanding it very well. I just re-read it as an adult, and it wasn't just my adolescence and inexperience that made the book difficult. The story is told by the 14-year-old Charlotte, and Patty Dann lets Charlotte be strange and hormonal and irrational and confused. Charlotte is definitely an unreliable narrator and Dann doesn't insert her author self in order to make sure that her readers understand what is happening.

K.E. Saxon
Thoroughly enjoyable, charming story of teenage angst and family relationships (mother-daughter, sister-sister) set in New England in the early 1960s, Filled with unforgettable characters, and both poignant and amusing situations and dialogue. For those who are curious: The motion picture storyline follows closely to the book's, but there are a few differences. Some characters are fleshed out more in the movie, and some are fleshed out more in the book (I won't say which---you'll have to discove...more
This book was recommended to me by a friend, so I agreed to read it despite not liking the sound of it from the descriptions on the back and the jacket. I should have stuck with my initial intuition and not read it. I'm not sure what she liked about it, but religious undertones, pedophilia, and child neglect don't do it for me...maybe that's just me. I would NOT recommend this book to others, but all things aside I DID read the whole book, so maybe it's attraction is that it keeps you curious to...more
Charlotte at 14 (being Jewish) longs to become a saint. Or at least receive some sign from God. Anything.
Meanwhile, she has to deal with a mother a bit flaky and a sister who seems part-fish. Her hormones are also very active - having fallen in love a hundred times. She continues the process with Joseph Perretti, a caretaker at the convent and who is twice her age.
In the end they make love even as her sister Kate almost drowns. Yet all is resolved in the end. Kate recovers, her mother matures,...more
They made a movie out of this book with Wynonna Rider and Cher. I love the movie, so when I saw that it was based on a book, I read the book. The two follow each other pretty well, but between the book or the movie, I'd pick the movie. But I did still enjoy the book. It made me laugh. The mother is crazy, and the daughter is a confused teen living in 50's (or maybe 60's) I don't remember. I like it, so check it out. It'll make you think about your relationship with your own mother.
The first experience I had with this story was the movie, I loved the movie, so of course I had to read the book. First, finding the book was difficult, but so worth the search! The main character, Charlotte, is such an extremist. Mrs. Flax is portrayed in such a brilliant way through the eyes of her 14 year old daughter. And you can't help but fall in love with Kate. It is a great story about a family who is struggling and how they make it through. Loved it!
I saw the movie before I read the book ( I didn't know it was a book) and I thought the movie was a lot better. The way that the author tones Charlotte makes her unrelatable. She always seems like she's talking to herself and it made me feel like I was intruding on something. Besides Charlotte and Kate, none of the other characters were developed very well. It made the book seem unrealistic. Overall I am fairly dissapointed.
You know... this is one of those rare cases where the movie is better than the book. They made the characters a little fuller, with a little more heart. I did like the book, and I am sure I would have liked it a lot more if I had read it before the movie came out (and then would have been thrilled with the result once it had!) but I am glad I read it in the end. Plus it is a very short read, so worth it for the time it takes.
Beth Lind
I saw this movie when it came out and then just found out that it was a book first. Maybe all movies are books first but if I know it then I won't see the movie until I've read the book. Regardless, this sweet and quirky book was wonderful. I love all the ways that Charlotte has conversations and worries in her head. A well told tale that the movie followed pretty closely (at least how I remember the movie).
Sep 28, 2012 Brandy rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those in need of a quick, quirky diversion
This was a nice, quick read, which was just what I needed after reading a few more involved books. It's a little odd at times, but I think it's meant to be. The movie stayed pretty true to the book. I'll be honest with you, though - this is one where I think I actually liked the movie better than the book.
Weird book. Can't believe they made a movie (Cher, Winona Ryder, Christina Ricci) out of this. The story seemed pointless and depressing unless you are into teen sex, statutory rape, child neglect, religion, and psychological trauma. Can't recommend.
i don't know how i got a copy of this book, but I read all of it. Thankfully, it was a short book. The characters were quirky and that's the best of it. None of the characters had healthy relationships. I could find no redeeming value.
I read this novel in one sitting and was absolutely delighted by it.

Full review here:

I love this book! I enjoyed the film adaptation, too, but after reading the book, I wish they'd paid more attention to Kate's character - she had some great lines ...
Hmmm... Well, I decided that the adaptation of the book for the movie was really good. In fact, I prefer the movie. I believed the characters more in the movie.
Jennifer Johnson
I'm generally pretty forgiving of books I read after having enjoyed the movie (not the case for film interpretations of favorite books) so this was a fun experience.
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