American Mermaid

A Novel

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Pub Date 21 Mar 2023 | Archive Date Not set

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Description

A brilliantly funny debut novel that follows a writer lured to Los Angeles to adapt her feminist mermaid novel into a big-budget action film, who believes her heroine has come to life to take revenge for Hollywood's violations.

"I was hooked from the first page. American Mermaid is brilliantly sharp, funny, and thought-provoking, the gripping story of a woman trying to find her way in our chaotic world." —Madeline Miller, bestselling author of Circe

Broke English teacher Penelope Schleeman is as surprised as anyone when her feminist novel American Mermaid becomes a best-seller.  Lured by the promise of a big payday, she quits teaching and moves to L.A. to turn the novel into an action flick with the help of some studio hacks. But as she's pressured to change her main character from a fierce, androgynous eco-warrior to a teen sex object in a clamshell bra, strange things start to happen. Threats appear in the screenplay; siren calls lure Penelope’s co-writers into danger.  Is Penelope losing her mind, or has her mermaid come to life, enacting revenge for Hollywood’s violations?

American Mermaid follows a young woman braving the casual slights and cruel calculations of a ruthless industry town, where she discovers a beating heart in her own fiction, a mermaid who will fight to move between worlds without giving up her voice. A hilarious story about deep things, American Mermaid asks how far we’ll go to protect the parts of ourselves that are not for sale.
A brilliantly funny debut novel that follows a writer lured to Los Angeles to adapt her feminist mermaid novel into a big-budget action film, who believes her heroine has come to life to take revenge...

Advance Praise

“I was hooked from the first page. American Mermaid is brilliantly sharp, funny, and thought-provoking, the gripping story of a woman trying to find her way in our chaotic world.” —Madeline Miller, bestselling author of Circe

“I was hooked from the first page. American Mermaid is brilliantly sharp, funny, and thought-provoking, the gripping story of a woman trying to find her way in our chaotic world.” —Madeline Miller...


Marketing Plan

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  • National Review and Media Appearances, including NPR and Newspaper and Magazine Features, Women’s Magazines and Literary Media Coverage
  • Original Essays and Opinion Pieces
  • Author Events
  • Major Online...

Available Editions

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ISBN 9780385549677
PRICE $28.00 (USD)

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Average rating from 22 members


Featured Reviews

An engaging read. Langbein’s mermaid tale is smart, funny, and feminist — three of my favorite characteristics in fiction, especially when they occur together. It is cynical and hopeful in *almost* equal measure.

It’s the story of high school English teacher called Penelope who surprised herself with a first novel so successful she’s offered a contract to write the movie script when she sells the rights to a Hollywood movie producer. Penelope is naïve to the ways of Hollywood, which provides opportunities for much of the novel’s cynicism and social critique. The device of the book-within-the-book is a little gimmicky but effectively highlights the similarities of Penelope’s story and the mermaid’s tale.

Thanks to #NetGalley for ARC in exchange for honest review.

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This was a beautifully done literacy fiction novel, it was what I was hoping for from the description. It had a great message about Hollywood and the author of projects. It was wonderfully done and I was invested in what was happening to Penelope Schleeman. She felt like a real person and I really felt for her as the story when on, I was really rooting for her and American Mermaid to work.

"The doors opened with a ding. The colleague quickly offered to push Sylvia’s chair, but she declined with gentle thanks. They said good-bye and Sylvia caught sight of her mother outside the security turnstile. Her mother’s was the most familiar silhouette in the world to her, but jarring to see at Sylvia’s office."

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This is an interesting novel in which elements of science fiction, feminism and climate responsibility are combined. Honestly, I have never read anything quite like this. The catalyst is a novel written by the struggling teacher, Penelope, which is sold to Hollywood.

The author brilliantly combines the new novel, screen adaptation and the actual book. This is a complex and unusual novel. As a debut author, I admire the extraordinary style Langbein has utilized in this novel. Of course, I admire the feminist aspects as well as the emphasis on the neglect of our planet.

Yes, this is a winner. It is totally original and very engaging.

Thank you Netgalley.

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Julia Langbein’s American Mermaid is two stories in one. There’s the tale of Sylvia, a mermaid whose earnest story pulls at the heartstrings. Then there’s the story of Penelope, the writer whose book about Sylvia’s journey. Penelope’s book, American Mermaid, goes viral and Penelope heads to Hollywood to adapt her novel for the screen with the help of two slick bros. The experience is disheartening, to put it mildly, and sends Penelope into a bit of a spiral during her time in LA. Things begin to happen that seem beyond the realm of circumstance, and Pen wonders if the character she’s created is exacting revenge on her and the people involved in its desecration.
I honestly laughed my tail off so many times, especially towards the end of this book. It’s a well-crafted, witty read and I think it will be a huge hit—maybe even a movie! 5 stars.
This ARC was provided by NetGalley. The opinions expressed are my own.

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WOW!! Just finished this "wild ride"! American Mermaid is the story of Penelope, a high school teacher/writer who moves to L. A. to work with screenwriters as they develop her book into a movie. It's also the story of Sylvia, the mermaid from Penelope's book, American Mermaid. I don't believe I've ever read anything like this, where fictional and even "more fictional" characters interact in the most bizarre manner! This book brings in current topics of femininity, climate change, and capitalism as they relate to mermaids - yes, mermaids!

This is a fun read - it's incredibly well written in back-and-forth chapters between what's real and what's "fictional". It's one of the most creative stories that I've read. I did get a tad bogged down in parts, and would have liked it to move more quickly. Truthfully, there's so much in this book, I feel I should read it a few more times to really digest all the ins and outs of it thoroughly. HIGHLY RECOMMEND for a cerebral read!

Thanks to NetGalley for allowing me to read and review American Mermaid.

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Beautifully written, wildly humorous, compelling mystery about a mermaid baby found washed up on a beach and surgically altered to live as a crippled human. Her evil adoptive father threatens a cataclysmic environmental event. Will she save the world?

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Wow! I didn't know what to expect when I started this book and it really blew me away. I loved how the author weaved the protagonist's story with the book she has written. It kept me guessing till the end. I loved how the image of the mermaid was used but flipped, especially since I was reading this when the new "Little Mermaid" film trailers with a Black mermaid was making the news. I don't want to give anything away but if like books about feminist but flawed women then this is for you.

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Hilarious! Moving! Complicated! Fun!
American Mermaid is like no other book - follow Penelope as she quits her low paying English teaching job to move to LA to write the screen play for her surprise best selling novel about a Mermaid.

Words alone cannot describe how witty and sharp the dialogue Julia Langbein has created. The characters are both bigger than life and as common as your office mates. You will root for Penny to keep her pride and her
respect and maintain the great character she created while slowly and surely, Hollywood chips away at the concept. If you love a fresh and hilarious new voice, all things mermaid (and special, and fantastical) or just want a novel where a woman fights to maintain her autonomy and voice, America Mermaid is for you! #Doubleday

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American Mermaid by Julia Langbein is a suspenseful fantasy set in real time. I love the way mermaid mythology, science and a tragic story of love and betrayal are written. As a lover of mermaids and strong female leads, this novel is spot on. I enjoyed the writing style of the author which provided believable details without doing a deep dive. I am going to definitely recommend this title.

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