Hazel Bly and the deep blue sea

Ashley Herring Blake

Book - 2021

For two years, twelve-year-old Hazel has coped with her Mum's accidental death by overprotecting her sister and Mama, but when Mama reconnects with her first love, roles begin to shift.

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Lesbian fiction
Children's stories
New York : Little, Brown and Company 2021.
Main Author
Ashley Herring Blake (author)
First edition
Physical Description
338 pages ; 20 cm
Ages 8-12.
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

In the two years since the accident that claimed Mum's life and left Hazel with facial scars, the 12 year old's world has shrunk, fitting tightly around her duty to keep her little sister safe and trying not to remind Mama of all they lost. But when they move to a small beach town and Mama is reunited with her first love, things begin to change for their family, forcing Hazel to deal with feelings she'd long been avoiding. This latest from Blake (The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James, 2019) is a moving story of grief and guilt. Though the bulk of the story follows Hazel trying to make sense of her emotions alone, the novel addresses the help she needs to deal with her possible PTSD. While the book does feature intense moments of sadness, there are plenty of lighter moments around things like her new friend's love of all things mermaid. This novel deals with loss in a way that feels accessible but never condescending.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Packing an emotional punch, this delicately woven novel by Blake (The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James) features clearly wrought characters who capture the heart. Twelve-year-old Hazel Bly, her mother Evie, and five-year-old sister Peach have moved eight times in the last two years, following the death of the girls' Mum. Wracked with guilt and physically scarred from the event that took Mum's life, Hazel retreats into trying to keep the family safe. Newly arrived in Rose Harbor, Me., for the summer, she finds herself unwilling to face the ocean, once her most treasured escape. After running into neighbor Lemon, also 12, and Lemon's mother, Claire (Evie's childhood friend, it happens), Hazel learns that she's the spitting image of Rosemary Lee, a turn-of-the-century captain's daughter, rumored to have become a mermaid, on whom the seaside town's lore is based. Grieving, prickly Hazel must navigate making friends--including with Kiko, who's of Japanese ancestry, and Jules, who's white and nonbinary--and address her trauma. Slowly unfurling her story, which is resonant with messages about healing, the author invites readers into an exploration of grief, memory, and familial relationships while employing layered metaphors about oceanic fact and fiction. Ages 8--12. Agent: Rebecca Podos, Rees Literary. (May)

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Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 4--8--Twelve-year-old Hazel lost her mum in a tragic accident two years ago, and it feels like she's been losing parts of herself ever since. Now Hazel, her younger sister Peach, and her other mother, Mama, have left their family home and are bouncing around from town to town trying to outrun their grief. This summer they've settled into Rose Harbor, ME, a coastal town famous for its mythical mermaid. Hazel is introduced to the tale of the Rose Maid by her new neighbor Lemon. Lemon and her friends draft Hazel into their "MerSquad" despite her skepticism, slowly breaking down her walls. One friend, Jules, is nonbinary, and their fledgling romantic connection with Hazel is a sweet promise of hope that never seemed possible before. By opening up to others and leaning into the magic of something larger than herself, Hazel forges a new path forward. The rich character development and deft writing allow readers to empathize with Hazel. Hazel, her family, and most other characters are cued white; one secondary character is of Japanese descent. VERDICT Blake continues to expand her catalogue of positive, nuanced LGBTQ+ representation in middle grade novels. An honest and moving exploration of loss that highlights the healing power of reclaiming oneself and allowing hope to thrive.--Sophie Kenney, Aurora P.L., IL

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Review by Horn Book Review

Twelve-year-old Hazel and her younger sister have been moving around the country with Mama for two years, ever since Hazel's other mother died in a kayak accident for which the protagonist blames herself and which left her with visible scars. Now, they've arrived for the summer in Rose Harbor, Maine, where the ocean is difficult to avoid despite Hazel's fear of it since the accident. While Mama, reunited (perhaps a bit too coincidentally) with her first love Claire, begins to move on, Hazel's processing of her own grief is slower, though helped along by the friendships she forms. The novel surrounds her with people who affirm her need for patience, notably Claire's daughter Lemon, who is herself grieving the loss of her twin sister; and Jules, a friend who is nonbinary and on whom Hazel develops a crush. Blake (most recently The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James, rev. 3/19) balances many plot elements, often serious ones, without overburdening the narrative, to create a character-based, atmospheric novel with a strong sense of place. Shoshana Flax July/August 2021 p.105(c) Copyright 2021. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.