Book Review: When We Believed in Mermaids

by Rebecca
Published: Last Updated on

Your life has been plagued with loss. The instant you start to feel better again, your heart clenches at the thought of what sadness lies in wait for you just around the corner. Kit Bianci has lived her whole life this way, losing family and friends and safe places to call home. So, when she sees someone on the news who could only be the sister she thought was dead, she can’t ignore it. She has to investigate.

She hops on a plane to New Zealand to find her once-dead sister, and her life changes forever.

Barbara O’Neal’s When We Believed in Mermaids is a powerful story of love, loss, and the strength and resiliency of the human spirit. It is beautifully told from the perspectives of both Kit and her long-lost sister, Josie, tugging at the heartstrings and flooding the reader with raw emotion.

Kit and Josie are far from perfect, but they are strong and determined to move forward in life as best they can, spending each day atoning for and recovering from past mistakes.

I have to admit I may have a little extra love for this novel because the main characters are from my home state of California, but the story itself is so deeply moving; full of mystery and intrigue, wit and romance, and the simple thrills of catching an early morning wave, it’s impossible not to become completely engrossed in it.

When We Believed in Mermaids is a truly beautiful novel. It’s a new take on the classic family drama, and it is guaranteed not to disappoint.

About When We Believed in Mermaids

Paperback: 352 pages

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (July 16, 2019)

From the author of The Art of Inheriting Secrets comes an emotional new tale of two sisters, an ocean of lies, and a search for the truth.

Her sister has been dead for fifteen years when she sees her on the TV news…

Josie Bianci was killed years ago on a train during a terrorist attack. Gone forever. It’s what her sister, Kit, an ER doctor in Santa Cruz, has always believed. Yet all it takes is a few heart-wrenching seconds to upend Kit’s world. Live coverage of a club fire in Auckland has captured the image of a woman stumbling through the smoke and debris. Her resemblance to Josie is unbelievable. And unmistakable. With it comes a flood of emotions—grief, loss, and anger—that Kit finally has a chance to put to rest: by finding the sister who’s been living a lie.

After arriving in New Zealand, Kit begins her journey with the memories of the past: of days spent on the beach with Josie. Of a lost teenage boy who’d become part of their family. And of a trauma that has haunted Kit and Josie their entire lives.

Now, if two sisters are to reunite, it can only be by unearthing long-buried secrets and facing a devastating truth that has kept them apart far too long. To regain their relationship, they may have to lose everything.

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

About Barbara O’Neal

Barbara O’Neal is the author of twelve novels of women’s fiction, including The Art of Inheriting SecretsHow to Bake a Perfect Life, and The All You Can Dream Buffet. Her award-winning books have been published in more than a dozen countries, including France, England, Poland, Australia, Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Brazil. She lives in the beautiful city of Colorado Springs with her beloved, a British endurance athlete who vows he’ll never lose his accent.

Connect with Barbara

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Instagram tour:

Thursday, August 1st: @hothanjama

Friday, August 2nd: @girlsinbooks

Friday, August 2nd: @readingbetweenthe_wines

Saturday, August 3rd: @readwithjamie

Saturday, August 3rd: @_ebl_inc_

Sunday, August 4th: @my_book_journey_

Monday, August 5th: @pieladybooks

Tuesday, August 6th: @dropandgivemenerdy

Tuesday, August 6th: @mermaid_ginger

Wednesday, August 7th: @jessicamap

Thursday, August 8th: @kimberleewilliams_realestate

Thursday, August 8th: @booktimistic

Friday, August 9th: @jennblogsbooks

Saturday, August 10th: @wherethereadergrows

Review tour:

Monday, July 15th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Monday, July 15th: @simplykelina

Tuesday, July 16th: Kendra Loves Books

Wednesday, July 17th: Reading Reality

Thursday, July 18th: Literary Quicksand

Monday, July 22nd: Palmer’s Page Turners

Tuesday, July 23rd: Erica Robyn Reads

Thursday, July 25th: Jathan & Heather

Friday, July 26th: Thoughts on This ‘n That

Monday, July 29th: Sincerely Karen Jo – author guest post

Wednesday, July 31st: Cheryl’s Book Nook and @beastreader

Thursday, August 1st: Amy’s Book-et List

Friday, August 2nd: Not in Jersey

Friday, August 2nd: Lori’s Reading Corner – author guest post

Monday, August 5th: Broken Teepee

Wednesday, August 7th: Girl Who Reads

Thursday, August 8th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

Friday, August 9th: Kahakai Kitchen

Monday, August 12th: Openly Bookish

Tuesday, August 13th: Treestand Book Reviews

Related Posts


Sara July 19, 2019 - 7:35 pm

Lake Union is putting out solid books this summer and this is another one I have to add to my list! Should be here next week if I’m lucky. Thank you so much for being on this tour, I’m so glad you enjoyed this one! Sara @ TLC Book Tours

Barbara O'Neal, author of WHEN WE BELIEVED IN MERMAIDS, on tour July/August 2019 | TLC Book Tours July 26, 2019 - 1:29 pm

[…] Thursday, July 18th: Literary Quicksand […]

Eve March 12, 2020 - 3:19 pm

Hello. I chose this for my book club based on great reviews. Love the book. However am unable to find questions for a book club. Any ideas?

tammy schaffernoth February 19, 2020 - 6:21 pm

Does anyone have discussion questions for this book?

Eve March 11, 2020 - 1:13 pm

Please let me know if you have found any. I chose this based on rave reviews for my book club. I neglected to check first for book club discussion ideas. Thanks.

Lisa March 31, 2020 - 12:57 pm

I too am looking for discussion questions for this book. Please let me know if you find any! Thanks Lisa

Jackie July 9, 2020 - 11:36 pm

Questions on a web sight called: Just Us Gals

Marty December 19, 2020 - 12:45 pm

Too many adectives, too much repetition about their backgrounds repeated over and over again. This book could have been 5 chapters shorter and been just as effective.


Leave a Comment