The Girl from the Sea

Scholastic/Graphix. Jun. 2021. 256p. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9781338540581.
Gr 7 Up–This sweet sapphic romance with light fantasy elements makes for an absorbing, poignant summer read. Fifteen-year-old Morgan Kwon wants to escape. After her parents’ divorce, her household is tense: Her little brother is angry; her mother is sad. The teen also wants to get away from tiny Wilneff Island, where she’s lived since she was little. Morgan, who’s a lesbian but not yet out, longs to go to college, where she can truly be herself. But she takes pleasure in walking along the beautiful and soothing yet treacherous cliffs. When she slips and falls into the water, she meets Keltie, a selkie who rescues her. Convinced she’s having a near-death hallucination, Morgan kisses Keltie. True love’s kiss gives Keltie her land legs and makes her eager to discover her fate alongside Morgan—which directly jeopardizes Morgan’s carefully regimented plans. With a timely environmentalism subplot about how tourism and pollution affect seal habitats, the romance and coming-of-age narrative wind together in a story about identity, family, and friendship. While the plot is simple on the surface, Ostertag’s deeply saturated, expressive art makes deft use of gutters and panels, and incorporates text conversations between Morgan and her friends. Morgan’s last name indicates Korean heritage, Keltie is blonde with tan skin, and Morgan’s friend group is racially diverse.
VERDICT Adorable and authentic, this coming-out story is a must-purchase for YA collections hoping to entice younger teens. Additionally, this would be a great title for book clubs.

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