Review: Sirena

SirenaSirena by Donna Jo Napoli
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another book that was on my To-Read list since 2014. I *think* I heard about it on Boing-Boing, but I wasn’t making good use of my GR shelves that way back then to keep track of such things. Wherever I heard about it, I was expecting this to be a retelling of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid. (Looking at the other Donna Jo Napoli books I have on my To Read list – Beauty and the Beast, Mulan, etc – it’s not hard to see why) But this turned out to be so much better for my sensibilities – it’s really more of taking the barebones of the Anderson telling and porting it back to the original Western source of mermaids – the Sirens of Greek Mythology.

Ms. Napoli makes such a compelling character out of Sirena, a naive mermaid trying to get a human to fall in love with her so that she might achieve immortality. What propelled me through this book, causing me to finish it in just a little over a day (ignoring my kids and chores), was the way Sirena’s personal growth is portrayed. In a lot of ways, this is one of those novels that doesn’t have a traditional storytelling structure. It is simply the tale of Sirena’s awakening. But it just works so darned well! I’m mad at myself for waiting 5 years to read it.

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