Elise Faulkner is more at home in the waters of her beloved Lake Michigan than on land where her beauty queen mom is always on her back about her lack of a social life; her sister is dating the boy of her dreams; her favorite penpal–the one who wrote about mermaids in Ghana–has gotten married and ended their correspondence; and no one’s allowed to talk about her glamorous great-grandmother, the deep-sea wreck diver.
Elise is biding her time with books until she can flee. But then crazy Chiara Hanover pops into her life, as does Miguel, a mysterious carnival worker whose dark future has been predicted by a gypsy.
Paperback 176 Pages
Publisher: Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing (February 14, 2017)
I admit to being a sucker for a good coming-of-age story, especially one set in the 70s or 80s with an engaging main character. Elise Faulkner of The Mermaids of Lake Michigan won me over from the start. A bit of an introvert, Elise would rather read a book or write to her pen-pals from other countries than actually interact with others. She believes in mermaids (her great grandmother was a wreck diver who swore she saw one once) and she feels different and set apart from her family and the people in her small town of Grand Rapids, Michigan. The summer she is seventeen she befriends Chiara, her neighbor's granddaughter and falls in love with a young Romani drifter and her life changes as she tries to navigate life and adulthood.
The Mermaids of Lake Michigan is less than 200 pages but it feels like a longer book with its beautiful writing and depth of character and story. Suzanne Kamata skillfully captures the feelings of growing up in a small town in the 1970s and although I went through my adolescence about a decade later, across the country in the Pacific Northwest, I could definitely relate to Elise and her thoughts and feelings. There is a bit of magical realism woven into the store but it is subtle and doesn't take away from the very real moments. This is a wonderful book to curl up with and go back in time to adolescence, both the heady, brilliant moments and the painful, sometimes crushing ones.
Author Notes: Suzanne Kamata was born and raised in Grand Haven, Michigan. She is most recently from Lexington, South Carolina, and now lives in Tokushima Prefecture, Japan with her husband and two children. Her short stories, essays, articles and book reviews have appeared in over 100 publications including Real Simple, Brain, Child, Crab Orchard Review, and The Japan Times. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize five times, and received a Special Mention in 2006. She is also a two-time winner of the All Nippon Airways/ Wingspan Fiction Contest, winner of the Paris Book Festival Award, and winner of the Half the World Global Literati Award for the novel.
Connect with Suzanne on her website or Twitter.
There is definitely food in The Mermaids of Lake Michigan from the banana bread that Elise's mother bakes to the grilled cheese, canned soup, charred pork chops and spaghetti Elise makes as she attempts to learn to cook. Elise's mother often went all out for company, cooking Jacques Pepin recipes and dishes like Coq Au Vin and bird's nest soup, or a simple meal of meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, green peas, blueberry muffins and strawberry shortcake for Chiara. There were mentions of tea and crumpets, homemade dill pickles, carnival food like corn dogs, cotton candy, candy apples, ice cream and popsicles. There were restaurant dinners of quesadillas, tacos and beans, chips and fried ice cream and spaghetti with chunks of bread and Italian wine, and take out of McDonalds and fried clams, French fries and coleslaw. There was Elise's sister's tofu and raw egg, yogurt and wheat germ breakfasts contrasted with Elise's Rice Krispies, Raisin Bran, cornflakes, scrambled eggs and jelly toast.
For my book-inspired dish, I picked something simple--Elise's favorite breakfast, updated with a little spicy Sriracha-Garlic Mayo.
"On my birthday I got the royal treatment. Mom made my favorite breakfast - a scrambled egg sandwich with lots of mayonnaise smeared on the bread."
I am a big fan of scrambled egg sandwiches and lately I have become addicted to a spicy garlic aioli sauce that my favorite coffee shop serves on top of their avocado toast. I thought it would be delicious on an egg sandwich and so I have recreated it below.
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 1/2 cup)
1 garlic clove, finely grated
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I use vegan garlic mayo)
2 1/2 Tbsp sriracha, or to taste
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp tsp garlic salt
1/2 Tbsp pickle or caper juice
Stir together ingredients in a small bowl. Taste and add additional Sriracha or seasoning as desired.
Cover and chill until ready to use. Will keep for about a week in fridge.
Notes/Results: Delicious! My garlic sauce isn't an exact match for the one I crave (it uses a smoked-paprika and garlic spice mix), but it is close and pretty darn good. I think this sauce with its flavor and spice, would be good on pretty much anything, but it definitely complements the egg and buttery oat bread toast and makes this egg sandwich even better. I enjoyed this sandwich for dinner with slices of fresh tomato, but it would be perfect for any snack or meal of the day. I will definitely make the sandwich and the mayo again.
I'm linking this post up to the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.
I am also linking this sandwich up to this week's Souper Sundays, hosted weekly here at Kahakai Kitchen. If you aren't familiar, Souper Sundays is my weekly soup tribute that includes sandwiches, and salads and is open to anyone and everyone who wants to share a soup, salad, or sandwich post that week. You can see the details for joining in on the current weekly post here--we would love to have you!
The publisher is generously providing a copy of The Mermaids of Lake Michigan to giveaway (U.S. and Canada addresses, please) here at Kahakai Kitchen.
To enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway below, leave a comment please (Because I like to read them!) ;-) telling me about a place that was special to you growing up and/or why you would like to win a copy of the book.
There are a couple of other optional ways to get more entries to win: Tweet about this giveaway or follow me on Twitter (@DebinHawaii), and/or author Suzanne Kamata (@shikokusue), and/or Wyatt-MacKensie Publishing (@Wymac) on Twitter (Note: You can still get the extra entries even if you already follow me, Kamata, and/or Wyatt-MacKenzie on Twitter.)
Deadline for entry is Monday, February 27th.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Note: A review copy of the "Mermaids of Lake Michigan" was provided to me by the publisher and TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.
You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.