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When We Believed in Mermaids

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  27,010 ratings  ·  1,782 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

Kindle Edition, 348 pages
Published July 16th 2019 by Lake Union Publishing
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Sterling I would definitely say this book would be best read by an adult audience. A lot of the themes involved are ones a younger audience would lack the…moreI would definitely say this book would be best read by an adult audience. A lot of the themes involved are ones a younger audience would lack the experience to relate to and appreciate.(less)

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Average rating 4.25  · 
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 ·  27,010 ratings  ·  1,782 reviews

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Jeanne Adamek
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
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Susan Peterson
Jul 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jamie Beck
Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are too many things to rave about here. Lush writing, as always with this author. You will feel transported to New Zealand, a place I think we must all go visit. You'll be lulled into an intensely romantic subplot. You'll have a front row seat to a bittersweet reunion filled with angst and hope and disappointment and love. This story is really set in two time periods, but is elegantly, artfully woven together by well-placed flashbacks that resonate so deeply. And the tragedies that befell ...more
L.A. Starks
Nov 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
BreeAnn (She Just Loves Books)
What I Loved: I loved the cover of this book. Fair warning, this was not a well-liked book for me.

How I Felt: The beginning of this book had me completely hooked. "My sister had been dead for fifteen years when I see her on the TV news." I was like, "Yes!" This book is going to be awesome!" I felt so let down from that point on. I, in no way, ever want to bash a book, and I am usually finding myself handing out 4 and 5 star reviews because I just love books, but I was on the Struggle-Bus for
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
Sherri Thacker
A quick read that I really enjoyed.
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
Jan 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Powerful story of love and family with very likable characters. Liked how the story weaved the characters’ past with the present. Many readers are giving this 5 stars but it didn’t WOW me. Nevertheless a great read with some romance and mystery if that’s what you’re looking for.
Faith Freewoman
May 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
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.
Nov 07, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
To be honest, I wasn't impressed. The synopsis sounded more promising than what was actually delivered. The book fell flat for me. If you want to read a good book about sisters, I suggest reading Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner instead!
Cynthia (Bingeing On Books)
Sep 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was my first book by this author and I absolutely loved it! The writing was so beautiful and I loved the characters. I wasn't sure how I felt about Josie at first and why she did what she did, but the way the author weaved her history through the present, it really explained a lot of things and I felt a lot of sympathy towards her. The sisters had a childhood that was dark and sad and there was a lot of neglect there and it was interesting to see how each sister dealt with what they went ...more
chels marieantoinette
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
Patricia Sands
Nov 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I fall in love with every Barbara O’Neal novel

There is never a letdown for me with every story I read by this author. This novel is no exception. She has a way of building emotional response in me with her thoughts and words, gently caressing a slow tide of feelings, and building to a point that often has me murmuring out loud. It may sound a bit crazy but I have yet to read one of her books that has not given me these reactions. She is truly an artist, a weaver of words and a source of such
Chris Conley
Jan 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Terrific story about some seriously damaged people who find a way to a good life.
Kiki Z
Aug 03, 2019 rated it liked it
This book was a solid read but a few things kept me from really enjoying it. One, Josie is very selfish, and when she's young, with her issues, it's understandable. As an adult though... I really cannot fathom how she stayed away from her family for fifteen years seemingly without remorse, lied to her husband for over a decade, and thought she could get away with it. Two, Josie and Kit reconnect far too late in the story for real drama to happen, so the ending is lackluster. Everything is ...more
Aug 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Aug 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"My sister had been dead for fifteen years when I see her on the TV news."

I have to admit I almost DNF'd this several times in the beginning but so glad I did not. The audio was brilliantly done.
Bambi Rathman
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Haley Corkery
Dec 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Splendidly surprised.

I must admit, I went into this book thinking I wasn't going to be a fan. Is it pathetic to say the cover alone turned me off? Although the plot sounded somewhat interesting, I knew Barbara O'Neal was known for women's fiction and romance novels, and I was a little wary this wouldn't be the genre for me. Boy, was I wrong.

I have found yet another author who writes with lush description. I loved the way she wrote about the surroundings. From the beaches of Santa Cruz to the
Shannon Dyer
Jul 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, 2019, women-s-fiction
Round up to 4.5 stars. Review to come at AAR.
Sep 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2019
This is a poignant story about a dysfunctional family, mermaids, surfing, food, a cat, and love. I don't like stories that are too sappy, but this had just the right amount of romance thrown in--and had me crying at the end...
Kathryn Holley
Sep 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was amazing. The writing was detailed. The characters so developed. If I could crawl inside and stay here, I would.
Note: I hate it when I forget to review a book after I finish it and then find myself trying to come up with something to say about it a couple weeks later... which is totally what I'm doing here, so don't expect me to say anything profound here.

When We Believed in Mermaids by Barbara O'Neal has a very interesting premise: a young ER physician named Kit is watching the late night news when she sees her older sister walk in front of the camera during a breaking news story about a nightclub fire
Aug 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How I adored every single thing about this book! From the childhood lives of Kit, Josie and Dylan on the California beach, to a mystery that took me to New Zealand and all of its beauty, there is so much to be immersed in and I was.

This was a very special and very tender book for me. And although there were some beautiful romantic themes, this book focused more on sister and sibling relationships and explored the theme of forgiveness in the most beautiful way, bringing me to tears many, many
Aug 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
May 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
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.
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Barbara O'Neal is the Washington Post and Amazon Charts bestselling writer of women's fiction. She lives in Colorado with her partner, a British endurance athlete.

“it’s not about comparison, as my counselor used to say. My pain is my pain.” 5 likes
“Paris” 2 likes
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