Sensitive and Heart Breaking || ARC Review: Coral

I’m such a huge fan of Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Little Mermaid” that when I heard about this book, I knew I needed to read it.

Title: Coral
Author: Sara Ella
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release Date: November 12, 2019
Genres: YA Contemporary Fantasy

I received an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Official Synopsis

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?


Content Warnings: Suicide, self-harm, depression, anxiety.

This book is inspired by “The Little Mermaid” by Hans Christian Anderson. This is my all-time favorite fairy tale (and yes, I love the tragic tale more than the Disney movie), so I was intrigued to read the premise of this book. It takes some hard-hitting topics and weaves it into a mermaid story. I thought this was a thoughtful homage to the story, and I loved seeing certain parts of it retold.

I was warned by many reviewers before going into this that the timeline in this book is confusing at times. I would agree, but knowing that the timeline is confusing helped me piece things together a lot better, I think. There are three different chronologies going on in this book, from three different povs. Sometimes they connect. I really loved seeing in the end how everything came together. I thought each pov and timeline was important to the story, and had it been told in complete chronological order, I don’t think this book would have been as powerful as it was.

I did have to put this book down several times. It deals with some extremely heavy stuff. This isn’t a bad thing at all, but I did have to take breaks, since the emotions and feelings and problems dealt in this book are so real and painful. It was beautifully told, but sometimes hard to read.


This book, as I mentioned earlier, is told in three povs. Coral is a mermaid who is watching her eldest sister deal with a horrible Disease that makes a mermaid feel strong, intense emotions. This Disease always ends in death, and Coral is terrified that she has the Disease.

Brooke has been placed in a group home therapy for girls who struggle with suicidal ideation, depression, and anxiety. She doesn’t believe anyone can help her.

After Merrick’s sister tries to commit suicide, he believes the one thing that can save his family from falling apart his running away from his controlling father and find his mother, who has gone missing.

None of these characters are all black and white, and that’s what I appreciated the most. Sometimes I was frustrated at Coral’s naivete, but I loved watching her grow. Brooke scared me at times, but her strength was intense in the end. Merrick is trying so hard to keep his family from falling apart, but he doesn’t realize he is part of the problem. Because of their complexity, their faults and weaknesses—their strengths—I related to each of them.

I especially loved how these three came together. It’s beautiful and heart-wrenching at times, but mostly beautiful. There is a romance in this book, but it doesn’t overpower the themes or the emotions of this book. It was fantastic.


This book is intense in so many ways, and so so powerful. I would recommend to anyone who wants to delve deeper into these hard topics. I will be on the lookout for more of this author’s work.

Have you read Coral? If so, what did you think?

4 thoughts on “Sensitive and Heart Breaking || ARC Review: Coral

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