Jill's Reviews > Alice at Heart

Alice at Heart by Deborah Smith
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's review
Oct 02, 2008

liked it
Recommended for: Those fancying themselves mer-people

I got this book from the giveaway book section (First Reads) on Goodreads, so I wasn't sure what to expect. It's definitely not a book that I would have picked up on my own in the library or bookstore, but I want to give it a fair review because it is well written.

Deborah Smith certainly has technical skill and is accomplished in her craft. In order to create a modern-day, believable world where humans interact with mermaids (or "Water People" as she calls them), Smith obviously did a fair amount of research on the myths and legends of the world concerning the mythical human/beasts known as mermaids/mermen. She gathers these stories together in her book to weave together a coming-of-age novel filled with (mostly) believable characters, set in the modern South.

One of the more original themes in the novel is the idea of coming of age not as a teenager, but as an adult in one's later 30's. Both main characters find out truths about their pasts that they only now have to face, changing them forever. This creates a cleaner story line, as the characters do not also have to face the pressures of being a teenager and all that entails, and they can face their problems like adults.

Smith begins each chapter with a quote, most from one of the main characters, Lillith. At first I thought these quotes were kind of interesting, but then I flipped to the "history" section in the back, and realized that they are all pulled directly from that section. She also repeated one of them in chapter 5 and 15, which was a little silly. If you don't plan on reading the last section, I think it would be fine, but it's obviously an important part of the book. (It also hints at what the sequel will cover... hmmm...)

I can't say "Alice at Heart" is a particularly extraordinary book, nor that it showcases any genius that Smith might have. I say this because I didn't find any particular gems of "ah ha!" in it, or even feel like my life was changed by it. It doesn't delve into any pressing social issues, or at least not deeply. It's one of those books that I might pick up before a long plane ride, but not necessarily one I'll think about again after I put it down. To be fair, for the time that it was in my hands, I was engrossed, and appreciated the distraction.

"Alice at Heart" is a well written book, and I appreciate getting a copy. It's important to read outside of one's genre in order to remember there are different people, reading all different books out in the real world. Thanks, Deborah, for offering your book to us!

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