Flipping the Scales by Pete Tarsi
Genre: Young Adult/Middle Grade, Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (140 pages)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 Stars
Review by: Astilbe
Meredith and Marina’s lives have been flipped upside down.
When the translucent skirt that straight-A-student Meredith finds hidden on the beach gets wet, it transforms her legs into a mermaid tail. Despite the evidence in front of her, she insists that becoming a mythical creature isn’t scientifically possible.
Marina is allowed to experience one day per moon cycle among the humans. After hiding her tail on the beach that morning, she takes her first timid steps on land. When she returns at sunset to find it missing, she is left stranded and alone.
For the first time in her life, Meredith doesn’t have all the answers. As she searches for a way to return to normal before the next full moon, she makes waves among the school of mermaids. Meanwhile, Marina uncovers information about her past, and for the first time in her life, she must stand on her own two feet and take the lead on her own adventure.
As Meredith senses her human side slipping away, a forbidden way to change back entices her. But it comes with a consequence: Marina wouldn’t be able to return to the ocean.
They say the grass is always greener on the other side. Does this mean that the sea will always be bluer on the other side as well?
Meredith’s character development was well done. At first I wasn’t sure of what I thought of her due to her tendency to be a know-it-all, but once I began seeing how she was evolving as a result of her underwater adventures I quickly changed my mind. Yes, she definitely had her share of flaws. Her core personality was kind and sweet, though, and I really liked seeing how she adjusted to such big changes in her life.
I would have liked to see some more time spent describing mermaid physiology, especially since Meredith was so intelligent and interested in science. It would have made sense for a protagonist who was uninterested in figuring out how things work to brush away questions about how mermaids breathe underwater, for example, but that kind of reaction didn’t make as much sense for a girl like Meredith. Had this not been the case, this story would have easily earned a much higher rating from me.
The mermaids’ speech patterns were so much fun. They tell each other to “let it float” instead of to let it go, and every mermaid knows that “curiosity killed the catfish.” These idioms were used heavily in this book. I giggled every time I came across a new one. Including so many of them was a smart decision as it really illuminated the many differences between living underwater and growing up on land.
I’d heartily recommend Flipping the Scales to adult and young adult readers alike.