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charming middle grade fantasy
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AND THEN I TURNED INTO A MERMAID is a cute and funny middle grade fantasy that follows Molly. Molly is 13 years old and hoping to become popular and date a popular boy. However, it feels impossible when she feels so awkward and her family feels so different. This is not helped by her mother, who seems to insist on skinny-dipping in the ocean and the fact that they run a fish-and-chips restaurant.

On her 13th birthday, her family took her the ocean, and Molly is dismayed to learn that she is even less normal- she is half-Mermaid, and her family begins to turn for the first time on their 13th birthdays. Now, she has to be cautious around any amount of water, as she might transform into a mermaid around it, until she learns to control it. Her sisters and mother don't understand why Molly is so dismayed, but she can't help feeling like this is one more reason she can't fit in and be popular. This is all compounded when her BFF, Ada, begins hanging with the popular crowd and making fun of Molly's family to get laughs from the popular kids.

What I loved: 13 is an awkward age, and Molly captures this difficulty perfectly. It is tough not to feel like you fit in and even tougher when you are learning who your true friends are. While the awkward situations Molly finds due to unexpected transformations are not the usual, her difficulties with fitting in and feeling different are very normal. This story speaks to the reader with some comedy to arrive at what are the important things in life and who are your real friends (even if they have big ears, like Eddie of the Ears). I also loved the sisterhood that Molly and her sisters have, and the way they are always there for each other. There are a lot of characters to love in this book, even if you don't always agree with what they do.

Final verdict: Charming and highly entertaining, AND THEN I TURNED INTO A MERMAID is a book that captures the pre-adolescent/adolescent experience- with a little bit of extra magic.
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