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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.

And here is your go-to interview with Michelle Tea for all the mermaid-specific decisions in the book.

Praise for Mermaid in Chelsea Creek:

“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.”

“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.”

“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

“If you want to read a really original book with gutsy characters, I strongly, sweary recommend you find this book.”

“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.”
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.”
Bitch Magazine reviews Mermaid in Chelsea Creek: