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Hello, lovelies! May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so I’m using this month of blogging to spotlight some wonderful young adult novels that have mental health reps. If you have a novel that you love that spreads awareness about mental health, please share about it in the comments! Let’s fight the stigma together!
Now, onto the review!
CORAL by SARA ELLA
Publication Date: November 12th, 2019
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Where did I get this book?: I received an ARC from Thomas Nelson in exchange for my honest review.
Summary: There is more than one way to drown.
Coral has always been different, standing out from her mermaid sisters in a society where blending in is key. Worse yet, she fears she has been afflicted with the dreaded Disease, said to be carried by humans—emotions. Can she face the darkness long enough to surface in the light?
Above the sea, Brooke has nothing left to give. Depression and anxiety have left her feeling isolated. Forgotten. The only thing she can rely on is the numbness she finds within the cool and comforting ocean waves. If only she weren’t stuck at Fathoms—a new group therapy home that promises a second chance at life. But what’s the point of living if her soul is destined to bleed?
Merrick may be San Francisco’s golden boy, but he wants nothing more than to escape his controlling father. When his younger sister’s suicide attempt sends Merrick to his breaking point, escape becomes the only option. If he can find their mom, everything will be made right again—right?
When their worlds collide, all three will do whatever it takes to survive, and Coral might even catch a prince in the process. But what—and who—must they leave behind for life to finally begin?
Taking a new twist on Hans Christian Andersen’s beloved—yet tragic—fairy tale, Coral explores mental health from multiple perspectives, questioning what it means to be human in a world where humanity often seems lost.
My Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Before I get into this review, let me preface it by saying this is not a lighthearted YA novel. While there is light, there is also an abundance of dark. When I got this book, I was not in a good place. I started crying three pages in. While I didn’t want to DNF it, I had to put it down after a short amount of reading because the topic was just too dark and too close to how I was feeling at the time. That was about a year ago this month.
Eventually, thanks to a lot of support from friends and family, I started to get through the worst of how I was feeling. A year later, I’m still not 100%, but I’m carrying on. I restarted Sara Ella’s Coral in December. It was the last book I read in 2019. While it is a beautiful read full of love and hope and enduring, there are a lot of trigger warnings, including suicide, self-harm, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and harassment (you can find a full TW list at the beginning of the book).
If you are struggling with mental health issues, this is not a book I would recommend. Find some support, don’t give up on yourself, allow yourself the love you deserve, and when the light returns, maybe this book will be for you.
“You are not nothing. And neither am I.”Coral, Sara Ella
Coral is a retelling of the original “The Little Mermaid,” so if you’re thinking Disney…this ain’t it. It’s tragic and messy and beautiful and heartfelt. Through the story, we follow the POVs of Brooke, Coral, and Merrick. Each character experiences some form of tragedy in their lives. Hope quickly becomes a forgotten word, but they’re determined to keep trying.
I loved Coral. Despite its dark themes, Sara Ella wasn’t afraid to dive deep. She navigates the messiness and brokenness of mental health issues, gently guiding you to the light. I cried because of the weight of this story. I felt seen. I felt like I wasn’t alone.
Now, in diving so deep into bringing awareness to mental health, I feel a bit of the character and story development was lost. I was pulled back and forth between multiple POVs that didn’t completely line up with each other. The most confusing aspect of the story – and I know I am not alone in thinking this – was definitely the multiple POVs. At times, it was unclear which timeline I was reading. Coral and Brooke sounded very similar, so even with the names at the beginnings of each chapter, it was typical for me to think I was reading Brooke’s POV, then in the next chapter, realize it had been Coral.
I also tried to guess what was happening, little theories and such. Don’t do that. Just take the story for what it is and try not to overthink it (very difficult for me, but oh well), and the story should play out just fine with little confusion.
(Potential spoiler and triggers in this section):
The final thing I didn’t like about this book was that every main character in the story inevitably attempted or died by suicide. While Sara Ella expertly takes that darkness and somehow brings it back to a place where you realize there is still hope and light shining through, Coral is still quite triggering. Not every person who struggles with depression also has suicidal ideation. Just like not every person who struggles with depression self-harms. Everyone is different, and how they cope – positively or, sadly, negatively – is different too.
(END OF SPOILER)
Now, back to the good stuff! I really loved meeting all of the characters. I feel like they were all quite relatable and root-for-able (is that a word? hmm…I guess it is now!). They made me laugh, cry, smile – so many feels!
Brooke was my favorite, with Merrick as a close second. I do wish we could have seen a bit more of Coral’s transition from ocean world to human world though. However, I think there were some very good moments that helped to remind me where Coral was from.
All in all, I think Coral was a very good book. Less focused on a solid plot, much like The Night Circus (read my review for TNC HERE!), but still holding its own and providing a good representation of mental health issues. The characters were flawed and hurting and strong. While this isn’t a book I would recommend to someone who is younger, going through some struggles, and/or is easily impressionable, I highly recommend Coral to anyone looking for a deeper read featuring the topic of mental health.
Have you read Coral by Sara Ella? What were your thoughts? Do you have any favorite books with mental health reps?