Everyone in the broken-down town of Chelsea, Massachusetts, has a story too worn to repeat from the girls who play the pass-out game just to feel like they're somewhere else, to the packs of aimless teenage boys, to the old women from far away who left everything behind. But there’s one story they all still tell: the oldest and saddest but most hopeful story, the one about the girl who will be able to take their twisted world and straighten it out. The girl who will bring the magic.
Could Sophie Swankowski be that girl? With her tangled hair and grubby clothes, her weird habits and her visions of a filthy, swearing mermaid who comes to her when she’s unconscious, Sophie could be the one to uncover the power flowing beneath Chelsea’s potholed streets and sludge-filled rivers, and the one to fight the evil that flows there, too. Sophie might discover her destiny, and maybe even in time to save them all.
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Michelle Tea is the author of 4 ½ memoirs, 1 ½ novels and a collection of poetry. Her memoir Valencia is an underground classic and is currently being made into a feature film by 21 different filmmakers. She is the founder and executive director of RADAR Productions, a literary non-profit which hosts the monthly RADAR Reading Series (voted Best Literary Series by SF Bay Guardian Readers), the infamous Sister Spit Literary Performance tours, an annual poetry chapbook contest, and the Radar LAB Writers’ Retreat in Akumal, Mexico. She is a former writer of horoscopes and a current reader of tarot cards. Jason Polan's illustrations are featured regularly in The New York Times. He lives in New York City.
Daily Candy names Mermaid in Chelsea Creek in their "14 New Books that Save Brain Cells this Summer"
"I couldn't keep still when I was reading Mermaid In Chelsea Creek. I kept standing up to pace around because I was so excited by the book and then I'd hurry back to my chair so I hadn't missed anything. The novel has everything terrific about Michelle Tea, with the grit and the wit and the girls in trouble loving each other fierce and true, and then it has all the juice of a terrific fantasy novel, with the magic and the creatures and the otherworldly sense of something lurking underneath each artifact of our ordinary lives. I can't keep still to write a blurb about it. Just read the thing, read it now." Daniel Handler
"A radiant hybrid of piercing realism, creeping horror, and heartbreaking fantasy--but fantasy with dirt in its hair and scabs on its knees. Tea is an uncommon talent doing uncommon things and her voice tickles you, slaps you, whatever it takes to wake your ass up." Daniel Kraus, author of Rotters
"Tea's novel is a refreshing breath of air in the world of YA, equal parts eerie, heartbreaking, and fantastical." ZYZZYVA
"Each line carries substantive heft, emblematic of extensive research on Polish mythology, grounded by the gritty, immigrant haven that is Chelsea, Massachusetts." SF Weekly
" The story itself braids threads of ancient myths and lore with today's world full of mixed emotions and environmental neglect. It blurs the line between fact and fiction gracefully, thereby making the impossible seem possible." Insatiable Readers
"Mermaid in Chelsea Creek is a triumph in its own right, a stand-alone treat." San Francisco Bay Guardian
"Tea populated her foray into the genre with head-nods to outsider fantasy, Here, pigeons aren’t marginalized they’re bearers of wisdom; and mermaids are surly and complex, not preening or diabolical." Buzzfeed
"I started reading Michelle Tea's Mermaid in Chelsea Creek on the subway this morning and was instantly hooked... can't wait to get back to it." Emily Temple, Flavorwire Literary Editor
"If you want to read a really original book with gutsy characters, I strongly, sweary recommend you find this book." Sparknotes
"There’s a lot of heavy wisdom in this book, alongside the beauty and the grunge And there’s a lot of humor too it wouldn’t be Michelle Tea if you didn’t laugh out loud at her spot-on cultural observations, her astute sarcasm at the banalities that infiltrate our gorgeous world." Lamda Literary
"A fun read... a classic fairytale." San Francisco Book Review
"It’s as if Chelsea is Narnia, with talking animals, mind readers, and a heroine who, instead of finding a wardrobe, makes herself pass out with her best friend, Ella." The Boston Globe
Lonesomely populating a chasm in books for young readers where the magic comes from the blessed gutter.” The Globe and Mail
"Sophie Swankowski is the young-adult protagonist we've all been waiting for."
"Tea's work resists categorization, and like all surprising vanguard literature, it's the news a hunk of lyric information that coolly, then frantically, describes the car wreck of her generation and everything that surrounds it." Eileen Myles, The Nation
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