Forbidden Sea by Sheila A. Nielson (Published by Scholastic, July 1, 2010)
Since her father died in an accident two years ago, fourteen-year-old Adrianne Keynnman and her family have struggled to survive. They once lived a comfortable life on Windwaithe Island, but now they live in a small cottage and Adrianne must work hard to help provide for her mother, cruel aunt, and beloved younger sister, Cecily. One night during a storm, Cecily runs away from home, and when rescuing her, Adrianne encounters a mermaid who tries to drag them down into the sea. Adrianne is able to rescue her sister, but continues to be haunted by the events of that night.
From that day on, Adrianne’s life only becomes more difficult. She must continue to work hard so that her family can survive, and endure the constant teasing of the local bullies, who think she is an easy target now that she is so poor. Only her friend Denn Young seems to support her, but her feelings of friendship for him are growing into something more, though she doubts he returns her feelings, since he seems to admire Cora Lynn, a beautiful girl who is spoiled and selfish. And now she must also struggle with her fears of the mermaid and the superstitious people of her island. As the mermaid continues to try and lure Adrianne into the sea, she realizes the mermaid wanted her, not Cecily.
I really enjoyed reading Forbidden Sea, the story was very different from anything I read before. It is an original story with the feel of an old-fashioned fairy tale. Adrianne is a strong and admirable heroine, she is determined and brave and sacrifices so much to help her family. Despite the many difficulties she faces, she remains strong and determined. I would recommend this book to both middle grade and young adult readers who enjoy fantasy and fairy tales, there is nothing inappropriate for younger readers but I think the story could appeal to some older readers as well. This is the author Sheila Nielson's first book and I would love to read more by her in the future!