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When We Believed in Mermaids

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  1,670 ratings  ·  221 reviews
From the author of The Art of Inheriting Secrets comes an emotional new tale of two sisters, an ocean of lies, and a search for the truth.

Her sister has been dead for fifteen years when she sees her on the TV news…

Josie Bianci was killed years ago on a train during a terrorist attack. Gone forever. It’s what her sister, Kit, an ER doctor in Santa Cruz, has always believed.
Paperback, 352 pages
Published July 16th 2019 by Lake Union Publishing
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4.38  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,670 ratings  ·  221 reviews

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Jeanne Adamek
Jul 22, 2019 rated it liked it
I am planning, sometime in the future, on re-reading this book. Barbara ONeal is one of my favorite authors, her descriptive abilities are powerful... lush. I have to admit that I couldnt dnf this story. it wasnt boring or slow. If anything it was (for me) too detailed, too dark.

I admit I read to a certain degree to escape. To experience things (even if only on paper) like visiting new places, foods, ideas or even time periods. And this story did give me the first three of these things--it was t
Susan Peterson
Jul 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When We Believed in Mermaids is an engrossing, turbulent, and poignant book about two sisters, Kit and Josie. When the story begins, Kit is shocked to see her sister in the background of a news broadcast from New Zealand, thousands of miles away from their home in California--especially since Josie had been killed 15 years earlier. When she goes to New Zealand to find her sister, Kit unknowingly sets off a chain of events that will impact her own life, as well as that of her sister and the life ...more
I enjoyed this book, even loved it. But I got confused occasionally. The story kept me interested, but I found it a little unrealistic. But I read on and really liked the last half of the book (no spoilers).

Thank you to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for the opportunity to read and provide an honest review of this book.
Barb in Maryland
3.5 stars. I enjoyed it, but... I was often annoyed with the characters, the narration, the speed with which everything occurred. (Maybe I was just reading with my grumpy pants on).

The blurb is pretty good at giving the basic set-up.

The chapters alternate viewpoints between Kit and Mari, with each chapter revealing more of the past while also grounding us in each sister's current life. Kit's search for her sister (and her budding romance with Javier) seem to take longer than the few days that th
Bambi Rathman
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is nothing like the connection of love between two sisters and the bonds they share throughout their lives. This book is the story of two sisters, Josie and Kit, who are so close to each other growing up that it seems nothing would ever separate them from each other. Their bond is unbreakable, or so it seems. Secrets, heartaches, doubts, suspicions, and broken trust....will they be able to overcome so many hurtful events and find their sisterness again?

This story is about what can happen
Shannon Dyer
Jul 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: women-s-fiction, 2019, arc
Round up to 4.5 stars. Review to come at AAR.
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You're Going To Want To Read This Somewhere Where You Can Cry. Wow. This is a tragic tale, all around. It is primarily about two sisters and the scars they share - and the lengths they will both go to try to overcome them. Amazing story, solid mystery (though some of it becomes obvious earlier than the actual reveal). This one will grabs you with the first line, has you tearing up a bit early on... and then can have full on water works through the last quarter to third or so of the tale. Light a ...more
Faith Freewoman
May 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Heartrending and beautiful. But this is no easy ride.

The sisters' problems are real and crushing, and about halfway through I was far from convinced that they would resolve them, or their relationships. The men in this story are villains or heroes, or both, and I found Dylan the most poignant, while Javier was the one I want to take home with me.

But none of the men are able to step in and save the day. The sisters must do it for themselves, and fight through very difficult histories to get ther
Jul 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Kit Bianci believed her sister was dead, that is until she saw her on the television news 15 years later. Kit decides to travel to New Zealand and find her sister Josie and get some sort of explanation or closure. When the two sisters are reunited all their dark secrets are revealed. They will have to share all of them in order to move on and fix the broken relationships.

I found this book to be very slow to start and was almost halfway through the book before I started to enjoy it. I found Kit'
Aug 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Definitely one of the best books I have read this year! A first by me by this author and won't be my last! I read this in a day and could not put it down!! This story of two sisters lost in many ways after much tragedy in their lives left them to find themselves and try to overcome pain and loss. I'm order to move on this they must face the truth of the past, but it may be more than they can bare. Amazing characters and story line will keep you on the edge of your seat! Loved this!!! Thank you N ...more
Aug 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chick-lit, family
Like every one of her books, the waiting for it to be in my hands was interminable. And then I tried so hard to read slowly and parcel it out so I got to enjoy it longer, but I couldn’t. Her writing is just lush and immersive and lovely - I want to live a tiny speck of the technicolor, immediate experience of all of her characters. The way they eat or listen to music or walk under a tree is like they are rediscovering those things, with extra beautiful sensory input. This book was far darker tha ...more
Jul 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Moving story about sisterhood, love, and learning how to let go of the past in order to live fully in the present.
O'Neal has a gift for reaching deep into the soul and breaking the reader's heart and then mending it again. If I have one quibble about this story was that the backstory wasn't revealed fast enough for me, I wanted to know more quickly about the things that shaped the sisters as they were growing up, and some of it was only hinted at until almost the end.
Other than that, this is a w
Kathie Mikulovsky
What a beautiful novel.

I read this book in one sitting. I just couldn’t put it down. So complex, so poignant and just a little terrifying. Anyone who loves reading about family, relationships and secrets will love this book.
chels marieantoinette
Jun 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
This book was a little cheesy for me. The love story and all the woah-is-me stuff were a little too much and I found myself uninterested & irritated. Kit and Josie definitely had horrible childhoods, but everyone needs to move on and move up eventually. I wanted to shake both of them.
The dialogue was well-written, though. The descriptions of surfing, Sicilian home-cooking, touring Auckland, and the art-deco Sapphire House create beautiful imagery.
I’d recommend this book to anyone into love s
May 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own-this-book
This is a wonderful story of survival and the special bond of sisters. There are different ways to survive and this story shows how two sisters choose their paths. It's heartbreaking to read about the slippery slope of addiction. I loved the characters and the bond that Josie and Kit shared. The book is an emotional rollercoaster of sisterhood, love, secrets and the chance to find forgiveness. I highly recommend this book.
Miki Mackennedy
“My sister has been dead for nearly fifteen years when I see her on the TV news.”

With that fantastic opening line, we drop in to the story of 2 sisters, one presumed dead and one barely living.
Two little girls, Josie and Kit, are raised by parents so enthralled with each other that they neglect their children, leaving them largely unattended in a little cove by their home. During a storm, a broken and unwanted teenage boy appears as their door, offering the girls a bit of security and stability
May 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: net-galley
It’s surprising to me that something written by an author I consider a good “chick lit” writer, leaves me with the one word description of “powerful.” It’s quite an accomplishment to write a book with torturous family dynamics, a love story or two, some good sex scenes, a hint of mystery and an even smaller hint of ghosts, and leave this reader with the description of powerful. Throw in a house that’s almost one of the book characters and a description of NZ that has me ready to book a flight, a ...more
May 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful story of the bond of sisters.
Kit’s sister Josie was killed in a terrorist attack 15 years ago.
So why is she on Tv reporting from New Zealand !
This begins Kit’s Journey to discover the truth.
A beautifully written story that alternates between the past and the present and the relationship between these two sisters
The writing is absolutely gorgeous and the story is one to be devoured!
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Originally published at Reading Reality

This is the story about the deconstruction of a life. Not in the sense that things fall apart, because the lives of both Kit and Josie Bianchi fell apart a long, long time ago. The echoes of what happened in their childhood have rippled like aftershocks through everything that has happened since.

Including, but definitely not limited to, Josie’s death – and the faking thereof.

When We Believed in Mermaids is rather about the examination, in memory, of those l
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am always interested in books about sisters and the bond between them because of the bond that I have with my sisters. When I read the first line of this book, I knew that it was going to be an emotional story about the two sisters and the relationship between them.

"My sister has been dead for nearly fifteen years when I see her on the TV news." (p1)

Josie and Kit grew up on the beach in California where their dad owned a restaurant overlooking the ocean. The family was extremely dysfunctional
Kristina Simon
Jul 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a great story. I was hooked from the very first scene where Kit Bianci, an exhausted ER doctor coming off the late shift, sees her sister on the television news. That might not have been such a shocker if her sister hadn't died 15 years prior. The mystery of why a woman would choose to leave behind everyone and everything she knows and loves kept me turning the pages.

Using chapters that alternate between Kit's point of view and her sister's, O'Neal builds a compelling story of sisters wh
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I requested this book on a whim. I simply thought it would be a nice book to read for summer. I was wrong.

Kit and Mari/Josie are sisters, best friends, and soul mates. They care for each other because they have not had the easiest time growing up and simply had each other to lean on.

They did not have the best role models for love. My sister and I did not either. But they both prove the world wrong and find people who will love them to the end of the Earth, so have my sister and me.

I was skept
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautifully written story of two sisters and their very dysfunctional family and lives. The Bianci sisters are wonderfully crafted characters that you can’t help but root for. They will leave you frustrated at times but also leave you wanting to know more.

Barbara O’Neal has developed characters in this story that are easy to identify with and a storyline that will keep your attention all the way to the end. The story is heartbreaking in parts and joyful in other parts.

This is a new t
Agnes (BeaderBubbe)
What happens when your sister has been dead for 15 years and you suddenly see her on TV? Well, you get yourself on a plane and search for her. And that is exactly what Kit does - and that is where the story starts. It goes back and forth to the terrorist attack on the train her sister was on to the time that Kit is in New Zealand looking for her sister.

Kit also find romance in New Zealand and finally finds her sister. But at what price? Josie's family doesnt know about her past and Kit's showing
Sherri Lewis
Jul 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When Kit Bianci sees her sister on the television, it came as a shock.... after all, she WAS killed years ago on a train during a terrorist attack. So Kit hops a plane for New Zealand to search for her missing sister. While Kit starts out angry that her sister would let her believe she was dead for the past 15 years, she ends up re-connecting and time melts away.
I love this author's books. Her characters come to life and you experience something magical with every book. This book was just as ma
Jul 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Powerful story about family relationships, and more importantly, the relationship between sisters. Or, non-relationship, especially when one thinks the other is dead. Common themes that appear in many books: love, betrayal, forgiveness and acceptance. A bit of a slow start until the story establishes itself. Told in alternate voices by each sister, the present explains the past. I loved the powerful connection between the sisters, even through all the years of their estrangement.
John C. Winton
Aug 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow what a story

Everything I want in a good read. A new story a universal truth so good. Just needed a glass of milk and cookies. Wow now I must find all your books. Please keep writing
Sue Hines
Aug 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an amazing story!

I absolutely loved the characters, locations, surprises, strength of the women. Thank you for writing this. I look forward to reading your other books.
Erica Robyn
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: tlc-book-tour
When We Believed In Mermaids is a story centered around two sisters who are moving through life trying to run from the ghosts of their past.

If you're looking for a lighter summer read that is centered upon family drama and a slight dash of mystery, then I highly recommend this one to you!

Unfortunately for me, this one was a bit boring and quite repetitive. That's just how I feel about most books with two POV's.

I really enjoyed the last quarter of the book though! I even teared up toward the en
Jun 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: street-team-book, arc
This was a 5 star read all the way for me! Ms. O'Neal's writing is superb! The book is about family dynamics, addiction, lies and deception and false perceptions. It is a dual point of view--the view of two sisters who have been separated by oceans and lies for ten years. Kit didn't know Josie was alive...and that's how Josie wanted it. If Kit finds her, it may mean the end of the life Josie has built for herself in New Zealand. The life she has now is the life she's always wanted and she won't ...more
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I'm the author of more than a dozen books of women's fiction, which have been translated into many languages and won many awards.

I love in Colorado with my partner, a British endurance athlete who doesn't mind my predilection for too many pets.

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You many read more about Barbara’s books at her main website,
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