A Coming-of-Age Tale of Body Horror
5/5 Star Review
Ren Yu grew up on stories of mermaids. She knows all of the myths, legends, and truths. Mermaids drove her to swimming at a young age and now in her teens, she is a competitive swimmer. She starts and ends her days at the pool and her only goal is to get scouted so that she can get a full scholarship to college. Chlorine follows Ren on her path from girlhood to womanhood and all of the changes and pressures that transistion brings. As her junior regional competition looms ahead and the stress is as high as it’s ever been, Ren starts to lose herself as a human and gives into her mermaid desires.
This book, you guys – this book! It ticks so many boxes for me: Coming-of-age? Check. Body horror? Check. Literary horror? Check. Sapphic longing? Check. All of these elements are wound up into a tightly written narrative from a protagonist that is, to put it quite simply, other.
We experience all of these “firsts” with Ren as she looks back on her human life, through the lens of a queer, immigrant mermaid. This sounds a little out there – I know, but stick with me on this one because the prose and the story are just so good! Chlorine is one of the best debut novels that I have read in quite some time. It was unique, spellbinding, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Jade Song is one to watch out for and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for more of their works in the future.