Review: Coral by Sara Ella

Title: Coral
Author: Sara Ella
Release Date: November 12, 2019
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Pages: 384

Content Warnings: anxiety, depression, PTSD, suicidal ideation, graphic depictions of suicide attempts, successful suicide, hospitals, self-harm, unhealthy eating, death of a parent, parental abandonment, disassociation

This post does contain affiliate links. I will receive a small amount from any purchases made through Book Depository at no extra cost to you.

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.

Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

It doesn’t happen often, but this is one of those times where I just don’t have clear cut opinions about a book.

Before I go any further it’s incredibly important to point out the serious topics this book contains. Please practice caution when reading this story and make yourself aware of the content warnings before beginning it. Sara Ella dives deep into the topic of mental health and gives some very graphic descriptions of suicide attempts.

There are some really honest depictions of mental health in this story and that is always something I am thankful to see. It’s nice to know that it hasn’t been sugar-coated and is instead presented in an honest way. I haven’t heard that this is own voices, but with how honest so much of it was I wouldn’t be surprised.

Though we saw great mental health representation, in the end, it felt like the story wanted us to believe that love is the cure. This rubbed me completely the wrong way. This book does depict positive therapy experiences and shows that there is no shame in taking medication, so it’s possible I misinterpreted the ending. But that’s how it felt to me.

We get three POVs that mostly alternate each chapter – Coral, Brooke, and Merrick. They start off as drastically different storylines and it was a little hard to keep everything straight. The transitions between them oftentimes felt abrupt and there would be weird time jumps. I was able to tell how they would connect in the end and once they finally started to things got a bit better.

The overall plot was a bit muddy and hard to distinguish. I wasn’t sure for the majority of the book what the main goal was that the characters were working towards which was frustrating. Even at the end when everything was resolved it seemed like a few things that started out as major issues were wrapped up quickly and almost brushed under the rug because they had been forgotten about.

As I was reading there were several lines that stuck out to me as being…not great.

  • “He didn’t have to be a prodigy to figure out she was prone to becoming an emotional wreck due to the simple fact she was growing a human inside her.”
  • “Though he wasn’t in the mood to deal with whacky woman hormones…”
  • “Bastion got choked up and Merrick found his own emotions wavering…This in Merrick’s opinion, was the most manly thing he had ever witnessed.”

These lines seem to be tearing girls down for having emotions while simultaneously praising men for having them. Also, unless I missed something, the only characters in the story that had mental illnesses were girls. I just wasn’t a fan of the connotation all of this seemed to carry.

Coral by Sara Ella had some great things about it that I enjoyed but also several things that made me cringe. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t buy a copy for myself, but I certainly wouldn’t discourage anybody else from reading it.

A digital ARC was provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Additionally, all quotes should be checked against the final copy.

Want to see some other opinions? Check out these reviews:

Once upon a time, Sara Ella dreamed she would marry a prince and live in a Disney castle. Today, she spends her days throwing living room dance parties for her two princesses, raising her little prince to be a king, and conquering realms of her own imaginings. Oh, and her husband is definitely more swoon-worthy than any Prince Charming.

Sara’s UNBLEMISHED trilogy has received high praise and multiple awards, but none as rewarding as the love and support she receives from her readers every day. Her new story CORAL, a reimagining of THE LITTLE MERMAID, releases in the fall of 2019.

When she’s not on deadline, Sara Ella can most often be found fangirling on Twitter, Instagram, or her YouTube channel. She may or may not be obsessed with #Bookstagram, and she has a serious condition known as “Coffee Snob-itis.” She believes “Happily Ever After is Never Far Away.”

Author Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube | Pinterest

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4 thoughts on “Review: Coral by Sara Ella”

  1. Thank you for giving such an honest review of this book! I’ve seen it a lot online lately, and I was initially very interested because of the premise of being based on The Little Mermaid. But your content warnings and discussion of the way women’s emotions and girls having mental illness creates a perhaps unintentional connotation for women’s mental health has given me pause. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome! Thank you for telling me that you appreciate my review, that is always good to hear. I’m glad I was able to make you aware of the content in the book. It was a very different story than I was expecting and I think a lot of people will go into it not knowing how dark it gets and that’s worrisome.

      Liked by 1 person

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