by Rosa Guy
Plot Summary:Rosa Guy’s tropical retelling of "The Little Mermaid" is the gorgeous, tragic love story of Désirée, a beautiful peasant girl who devotes herself to the handsome, aristocratic young man whose life she has saved. When his upper-class family feels that Désirée’s skin is too dark and her family too poor for a boy destined for power and wealth, Désirée proves that she is willing to give everything for love.
Review:This novella is a lush, lyrical read that captures the heartrending emotion of Hans Christian Anderson's "The Little Mermaid". It reads like a fable, with it's very descriptive and evocative prose, and with the heartfelt and innocent longings of Désirée or Ti Moune as she is also called. Her family discovered her orphaned after a storm, and raised her as one of their own, and although she works hard and loves her family, when Ti Moune hears Daniel Beauxhomme's car crash near her village, she falls immediately in love with him and works tirelessly to save him. Even when the demon of death comes to claim him she strikes a deal - she promises her life for his. The four gods that are present in this story - who seem to give Ti Moune the chance for love despite the difficulties that would make it seem impossible - are an interesting addition. They are the gods of the land, sea, love and death, and it's such a simple economy of power and shows what truly rules the peasants of the island.
Because the story reads like a fairy tale, the reader must take it on faith that Daniel is the only love of Ti Moune's life, even though his greatest asset seems to be his beautiful face. I thought their connection for a time when Ti Moune was at the Beauxhomme castle was sweet, but always tinged with sadness because the foreshadowing indicates that there can't be a happy ending. The writing is so beautiful and illustrates the love of Ti Moune for Daniel so well, that when the ending does come, it is so tragic. The ending is a bit different from the Hans Christian Anderson tale, which I found interesting and rather thought provoking when trying to analyze what the author is trying to say with this story. I thought this book was a great read and a fabulous retelling of "The Little Mermaid."