Daughters of the Sea: May by Kathryn Lasky (Published by Scholastic, March 1, 2011)
Growing up as a lighthouse keeper's daughter on a small island off the coast of Maine in the late 1800s, May has always felt a bit different, and as she gets older those feelings grow stronger, as does her discontent with her life trapped on the island. Often she can't even leave the little island to go to school because her hypochondriac mother insists May needs to stay home to help her. The year she turns sixteen, May learns she was adopted - which leads to her searching for the truth about her origins as she does not believe her father's story about where he found her, and she has always been suspicious about why he forbids her from swimming in the sea, when they live on an island.
But the truth May discovers the first time she disobeys her father and goes swimming is shocking - she is a mermaid, and that is why she has never felt at home on land. May loves the freedom of sneaking off to swim in the sea at night, and hopes to someday search for the two sisters she believes she was separated from as a baby. Meanwhile, her life on land has become more complicated. May is attracted to Hugh, a young astronomy student from Harvard who has come to Maine to do research. But could someone like him, a college student from the big city, ever love an island girl like her - especially if he ever were to learn what she really is? At the same time she must fend off the advances of Rudd, an unwanted suitor whom May fears will learn her secret.
May is the second book in the Daughters of the Sea series, following Hannah, the story of one of May's sisters. However the books take place at the same time so you can read them in any order. This book was a bit slow to start but ultimately I did enjoy it, the romance was sweet and I liked the historical setting. I think this book would appeal more to readers who enjoy historical fiction, because despite May being a mermaid this novel is really more historical fiction with a fantasy suplot, instead of fantasy that happens to have a historical setting. There was one thing that did bother me a bit, which I hope is explained in future books - the villain seemed to go from being just a rude, annoying person to really evil at the end, without any real explanation why, just some vague hints. It didn't ruin the book for me, but it is something I really hope is explained in the next book in the series.