The Mermaid of Brooklyn by Amy Shearn

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The Mermaid of Brooklyn
368 pages; Touchstone
In this sly and wise new novel by's own Amy Shearn, Jenny Lipkin, a depressed but drily witty Brooklynite, feels decimated by small disasters like a colicky infant and a toddler who bites. And then there are the big problems: the lack of money and the state of her marriage. When her husband goes AWOL, leaving Jenny alone with two young children and no income, she snaps. Jenny considers ending it all but is pulled back from the brink by a mermaid (yep, you read that right) who leaves the East River in order to take up residence in Jenny's body and, sometimes, her mind. In exchange for saving Jenny's life, the mermaid (who reminds us of Cher in Moonstruck, with her "snap-out-of-it!" advice) has certain demands. Soon, Jenny, who barely had time to wash her hair, is soaking in the bath ("Old habits die hard," the mermaid says), flirting unabashedly with a local dad and taking uncharacteristic, life-changing risks. In giving Jenny a new perspective on her family and herself, Shearn captures both the beauty and the banality of parenthood. We spend most of this delightful, grown-up fairy tale wondering if the mermaid is real or a figment of Jenny's imagination—or her id. Regardless, she leaves us wondering how to bring a little mermaid magic into our own lives.
— Corrie Pikul