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Selkie Girl

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  556 ratings  ·  73 reviews
ELIN JEAN HAS always known she was different from the others on their remote island home. She is a gentle soul, and can’t stand the annual tradition of killing seal babies to thin the population. Even Tam McCodron, the gypsy boy to whom she is strangely drawn, seems to belong more than she does.

It’s just a matter of time until Elin Jean discovers the secret of her past: he
Hardcover, 262 pages
Published October 14th 2008 by Alfred A. Knopf
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3.54  · 
Rating details
 ·  556 ratings  ·  73 reviews

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Sep 04, 2014 rated it it was ok
I agree with other reviewers that the cover is misleading. This is a dark, poetic tale, not a cheerful comedy. The cover didn't affect my opinion of the book though.

The prose is beautiful, and at first, I was taken in by its promise to reveal a mysterious world. But that's all it did: reveal a world. I searched and searched for a story to emerge from the depths of the prose, but I had to weed through endless narratives and descriptions to find it. The first truly interesting thing that happens i
Randi (The Artist Formerly known as Guitar Chick)
This cover is literally the most misleading thing I've ever seen. If the story weren't so awesome, I'd take off points.

This is actually a pretty dark look into selkie lore, nothing candy colored or Meg Cabot-y here.

I loved the characters. Elin Jean is wonderfully rendered, a very full bodied character with flaws and faults but also redeeming characteristics and strengths. You get a distinct flavor for every character, even ones only featured for a short amount of time.

If you can deal with a lot
A good lesson about what can happen if we take animal rights too far. Putting animals before humans reflects the way we treat our fellow man. Elin Jean started wishing the devil would drag them all to hell. I'm sure she could have found a place in her heart to wish the seals well without having such a burning hatred for everyone else in the world, webbed fingers or no. I'm glad she found her way with the selkies, despite and I hope she's still doing well to this day. (If she's still alive. I'm ...more
Jenn Doyle
Jul 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book, but the cover was a tad misleading. Based on the cover alone a reader would expect a rather fun, fluffy tale about selkies. This was not a fluffy story and deals with rape, being held involuntarily, death, and bullying. It's not light hearted reading, but I really loved the overall effect of the story. If you get triggered easily you may not want to read this. But I really enjoyed Ms. Brooks' take on the Scottish mythology of selkies. It's unlike any other selkie stor ...more
Rebecca McNutt
Mar 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
I was skeptical about whether or not Selkie Girl would be any good, but for a modern young adult novel it was pretty good actually, with well-built characters and dazzling writing. Unfortunately the book sort of butchers the original Celtic selkie stories and turns them into hokey teen melodrama. :(
Mar 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I really enjoyed it. The language irritated me a little ("wee bonny lasses"), but I really enjoyed this creative story. The language and the plot were beautiful. The cover art could be better.
Morgan Dixon
Oct 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m going to agree and say that the cover is pretty misleading and the story isn’t about a mermaid girl, it’s about a girl who turns into a selkie. It is pretty sad but I recommend this book to people who love folk tales and animal stories.
Of course I thought this would be right up my alley.  I first encountered this story as a one-act play years ago, and it was cool seeing it fleshed out into novel form.  The story is about Ellen/Elin Jean, the thirteen/sixteen-year-old daughter of a selkie and a human crofter who lives in the Orkney Islands (in the novel it's narrowed down to Shapinsay Island), who doesn't know why she was born with webbed hands that the other island youth make fun of constantly.  In the book, her father is much ...more
Trupti Dorge
Nov 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library
Selkie Girl is a story set in Shapinsay Island which is one of the Orkney Islands off the north coast of mainland Scotland. This story is inspired by Selkie legends where a Selkie is a creature that is half human and half Seal.

Elin Jean has always felt like an outcast in her village. She has fingers which are connected by thin webs that make her the object of ridicule in the village. She spends most of her time in isolation seeking solace from the Ocean. She lives with her parents and her grandf
Feb 15, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult, 2010, ls583
Elin Jean lives near the sea and has always felt drawn to it. She has never fit in with the other children in the village, a situation that is compounded by the fact that her fingers are webbed. So instead of people for friends, Elin Jean looks to the selkies, or seals. Every year the humans “cull” the selkie herd by killing the baby seals with clubs, a tradition which appalls Elin Jean. On a strange night in midsummer, Elin Jean has a chance encounter with a young man named Tam, tries once agai ...more
Dec 05, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
Reviewed on Alexa Loves Books

I'm going to be honest here: when I first picked this book out of the ones Ashley (of What's Your Story) was selling, I had no idea what the story was about. It was the cover that drew me in, with its wonderful combination of colors and the beautiful illustration. It was the first book I read out of the ones I got from Ashley and I have to say that I enjoyed it.


Selkie Girl's main character Elin Jean is interesting, and the story is basically hers. She's dif
Feb 22, 2010 rated it it was ok
While Selkie Girl did have a very original premise, and I was excited to read it at first, unfortunately it didn’t live up to my expectation of it. I wanted to like it, but I just found it dull and lagging. The plot, to me, felt like it never went anywhere, and even though the writing was vivid and beautifully descriptive, the story itself fell flat. There were many scenes that I felt dragged the story down.

The mythology of the selkies was my favorite part of the novel, and what made it slightly
Rebecca Sullivan
Jan 05, 2012 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 14, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: 10-grade
Selkie Girl
by Laurie Brooks

Personally i think this book was only intresting when we were told the story how the sekings happened.And the mystery of the story was small but you are wondering the answer till the end of the story.

i got really sucked in becasue the ending you/i would usually have figures it out but then there are the boring but necessary parts make you forget.

i also think there were parts that were not so necessary to be so long becasue i didnt like those so much they were reall
Alanna (The Flashlight Reader)

Cute. I hate to say this one didn't leave a huge lasting impression on me, but I did enjoy reading it.

The writing style was probably my favorite part. The author used great imagery throughout the book. I could imagine the salty taste of the ocean spray as I read about Elin Jean's adventures. It was very realistic. The author also did a fantastic job of developing the setting. Selkies are part of the Scottish folklore, so it is only natural that this tale takes place somewhere near there. Althou
Shannon lent me this book, saying it was very emotional and meant for teenagers, but interesting because it explored the folk lore of the Orkney Islands. One of the best values it taught, imho, was the value of life, and the intelligence of marine life. The legends or folk tales have it that selkies are seals who can live either as humans or seals, and that on Midsummer Eve, what we would call the Summer Solstice, selkies come to dance with humankind in the celebration of Summer. The main charac ...more
Jan 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This book is amazingly touching! It is the story of a girl named Elin Jean who is half selkie(seal human)and half human. She has webbed fingers, and for her whole life has been taunted and made fun of. But now she finds her mother's pelt and her mother goes away to the ocean. Elin wants badly to go away to the ocean, so she does. There she is still under suspicion, because of the human part of her. However, she still tries to be a selkie, and eventually she becomes more accepted. Then she works ...more
May 19, 2010 rated it it was ok
I couldn't really place this book within other folklore I've encountered about Selkies, perhaps because it is set in the Orkney Islands, and I'm more familiar with the Irish versions. Despite descriptions of the the landscape and some folk traditions, I didn't really get a sense of place, at all. That added to the problem. The plot also seemed to drag a bit in places. Elin Jean's time with the selkies seems drawn out and largely pointless. I didn't get a feel for what their community was like. I ...more
Sep 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
I thought this book was a really good exploration of growing up outside two worlds and not really fitting in to both as well as an exploration of the selkie myths. It was a continuation of one of the major selkie myths -- the one where the mother's skin is stolen, and she marries the farmer who stole her skin, and has a child or two, and then her skin is found and she goes back to the ocean, sometimes with her kids, sometimes without. This book is told from the daughter's point of view, and it s ...more
Kailey (BooksforMKs)
Jan 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
I was very pleased with this enchanting story! The characters are endearing and the plot is interesting and full of action. I love the character development of the heroine! The descriptions of selkie life under the sea are amazingly detailed and realistic. Wonderful brilliant writing all through!

I wish that the magical setting had been better explained though. I was never quite sure what WERE the parameters of the magical nature of the story world. Why did this magical thing happen at that parti
Mar 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
this book was great!
its about a girl with webbed hands who i an outcast in her town. each year, selkie girl goes to swim with selkies (seals). she is determined she will never be loved and wont find fate... until she finds out secrets she never knew which involves her mother. along the way, selkie girl falls in love.
i liked this book because it was nice to relax and read a fiction/fantasy book. it started a bit slow for me but i really got into it after about 30pgs.
i would recommend this book to
Jul 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dnf
I didn't finish this book. But not because I didn't think it was good. It deals with a lot of harsh issue's like the clubbing of poor baby seals. The legend of the selkie was also very interesting, and equally beautiful and heartbreaking. I liked the characters. It was just too sad, I can't take animal violence and there was a lot in this book. On the plus side it did get me aware of the seal clubbing problem and here's a good site to join to protest against this act of cruelty: http://www.human ...more
Dec 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
I read this novel as an advance copy quite a few years ago, and even then I was impressed! I absolutely loved Laurie Brooks' focus on an old tale that I've known since I was a child. Through surprising twists and turns, Selkie Girl proves itself as a novel worth joining the shelf of its original fable. I very much appreciated the portrayal of Elin as a highly candid, understandable character; a character with whom I could identify and see as another person in my life, but with extraordinary qual ...more
Jan 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
A Selkie is a seal that can shed it's pelt and become human only one time a year, at the summer solctice. Elin Jean doesn't seem to fit in and is ridiculed by the village people (not the YMCA Village People!). Her fingers have webbing between them. Her mother is not happy and her father is a grump. Elin Jean doesn't know why she doesn't fit in, no one will tell her anything. Until one day she hears the selkies tell her to "Find it." This is a really good story about selkies.
Sep 25, 2012 rated it liked it
I think the story is pretty good. It's none-traditional and to use a cute instead of fabulous animal to spin a mermaid tale is quite bold.

There were some lapses if I may add to the narration, may be bit of inconsistency to the characters like the heroine's mother so to speak, but it was an enjoyable quick read of a book.

Maybe the love story part can be a bit more developed, as it became a bit too "expected" of a love story/fairy tale.

It's a good read though.
Jun 01, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: growing-up, fantasy
I enjoyed the beginning, but found the more I read, the less I cared. I feel like Brooks has taken the story of the Selkie, which is a myth I enjoyed, and ruined it. Granted this is the first novel she's written, but I think had this been made into a play (which she has more experience writing) the experience would have been more enjoyable. If I just saw the actions, and knew less of what was in the main character's head, I think she would be more sympathetic.
I really like the meaning to the story in this book. It's told about a young girl who loves the ocean and the seals and feels a pull to be in the water and be with them. She finds out why but that would ruin it if I said. This book teaches the age old lesson of loving yourself and not caring what others think. Finding happiness within even if you don't feel it from others. It takes place on the Orkney Islands off the Scottish coast. Makes me want to go there and stay awhile.
Mar 10, 2016 rated it liked it
This book was about a girl who lives on land who knew that she never belonged there. Then, she realizes that she is part selkie, the fictional seal creatures who turn into humans once they get completely out of water, and have human personalities. She tries to save her new family's young from the annual killing of the babies, and to find a place to belong.
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Laurie Brooks is an award-winning playwright and YA fiction author.

Awards and grants include TCG's National Theatre Artists Residency Program, AT&T Firststage award, three Distinguished Play Awards and the Charlotte Chorpenning Cup from AATE, NY Foundation for the Arts, and Irish Arts Council Commissioning Grant (with Graffiti Theatre Company, Cork, Ireland).

Brooks' Lies and Deceptions Quartet
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