The Last Mermaid Princess by Lily Lewis - Book Review
The Last Mermaid Princess by Lily Lewis
Lily Chaidee was never at home with herself, her family, or her geography, and as a hybrid-Asian growing up in the Texas Panhandle during the 1960’s, she was ill-equipped to face the challenges that would inevitably come. Amarillo, an inhospitable place for an ethnically diverse family, was only part of the problem. Mental illness, sexual predation, addiction, domestic violence, and hypocrisy lay formidable difficulties in her path. But Lily was smart, and smart people often find ways to triumph over horrific circumstances. Even if she could claim her joy, sometimes the worst enemy dwells within. Lily must seek her peace and her place in order to rise above the things that bind her.
The Last Mermaid Princess by Lily Lewis recounts a compelling story that begins with coming of age in the 1970’s when all of the hot topic issues in the news today were minimized and quickly brushed aside. The good ole boy mentality of West Texas perpetuated a culture of hypocrisy and marginalization of both women and minorities. Lily Lewis goes on to weave a exquisitely dark account of the tiny tragedies that a dysfunctional family and toxic community can perpetuate endlessly. The character portrayed evokes powerful empathy and affection from readers yet causes them to despise her for the destruction she creates.
One of the biggest takeaways from The Last Mermaid Princess is the idea that we are all flawed and fighting our own battle to be the best version of ourselves possible. Being a survivor and overcoming insurmountable odds is a recurring theme that will resonate with most readers. There are messages about the very nature of the human experience. We are not one dimensional beings but complex multi dimensional creatures. The blurred lines between right and wrong, good guys and bad guys, black and white are explored with the idea that there are many shades of gray that color our world. Somewhere in all the chaos, we must learn to not only forgive other but to forgive ourselves.
Lily Lewis has a gift for words coupled with searing honesty and intimate revelations that will hold readers close throughout the book. Just when something seems too much to bear, the power of the words will carry readers to and through to the next chapter. The story will bring out almost every imaginable emotion and be almost cathartic in the process. I wept, I laughed, and I longed for more when I reached the last page. The way the story is told is almost as important as the story itself. A story that tells the power of grace, the importance of hope, the need for forgiveness, and the unbreakable bonds of family. Lewis is one of the most evocative and prolific writers I have encountered in some time. The Last Mermaid Princess will take you on a wild ride that will stay with you for a long, long time.
Reviewed by P. Sithsouravong – Pan Asian Book Club