When We Believed in Mermaids by Barbara O’Neal


**Book trigger warning – the book contains mentions of addiction, suicide, abuse, neglect.**

when we believed in mermaids


When We Believed in Mermaids


Barbara O’Neal is the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and #1 Amazon Charts bestselling writer of women’s fiction. She lives in Colorado with her partner, a British endurance athlete.

Connect with Barbara on her website, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and GoodReads.

Publication Date

July 16, 2019

Famous First Words

“My sister has been dead for nearly fifteen years when I see her on the TV news.”

Book Description

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. Yet all it takes is a few heart-wrenching seconds to upend Kit’s world. Live coverage of a club fire in Auckland has captured the image of a woman stumbling through the smoke and debris. Her resemblance to Josie is unbelievable. And unmistakable. With it comes a flood of emotions—grief, loss, and anger—that Kit finally has a chance to put to rest: by finding the sister who’s been living a lie.

After arriving in New Zealand, Kit begins her journey with the memories of the past: of days spent on the beach with Josie. Of a lost teenage boy who’d become part of their family. And of a trauma that has haunted Kit and Josie their entire lives.

Now, if two sisters are to reunite, it can only be by unearthing long-buried secrets and facing a devastating truth that has kept them apart far too long. To regain their relationship, they may have to lose everything.

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My Thoughts & Takeaway

While I wouldn’t place this in one of my favorite books ever or one of the most well-written books ever, I still thoroughly enjoyed it. I read many reviews and the ones that were negative seemed to agree that they didn’t really connect with the characters, but I had the opposite. However, as someone who has been close to people with substance abuse addictions, that could possibly be why.

It also doesn’t bother me how the characters behaved – life is messy, not a fairytale – and that’s kind of what I loved about this book. It looks more “real life” in my opinion. People screw up, people get addicted, they get clean, some reconnect with loved ones, some don’t. There’s no clear cut answer as to how these things go.

I think my main feedback would be that this could have been pulled apart into two books – a longer focus on their traumatic past and then a longer focus on their reconnection and future. A happy ending is great (and not always needed but great in this instance) but I always want to know…okay what now? I need more closure

Favorite Quotes

“Doubt thou the stars are fire, Doubt that the sun doth move, Doubt truth to be a liar, But never doubt I love.”

“She was the worst mother of all time. She was the best mother of all time.”

“There are seasons of darkness, yes? Loss and sadness all around.” He tightens his grip. “But if you are patient, the circle turns, and then there is happiness all around, everything good, everyone happy.” He flings a hand out, palm up, as if scattering glitter. “My friend, he just forgot that happiness is part of living too.”

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“But it’s not about comparison, as my counselor used to say. My pain is my pain.”

“Your quest is powerful. You needn’t apologize for the space it takes.”

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Ashley Hubbard

Ashley Hubbard is a blogger and freelance writer based in Nashville, Tennessee focusing on sustainability, travel, books, plants, coffee, veganism, mental health, and more. She has two other websites - wild-hearted.com and odditiesandcuriositiestravel.com

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