I’m going back a few years for this one, but Aquamarine was on TV last week, and I was reminded how much I love this movie. Yes, it’s mostly for preteens and has lots of silly preteen moments, but at heart it’s a sweet story about friendship and selflessness.
If you’ve seen Aquamarine, you may not know it’s based on a book by Alice Hoffman. Ms. Hoffman, in fact, has written several books for the middle grade crowd, and they are all worth reading. Scholastic Press did a lovely edition of Aquamarine in 2001 (shown here), and although this version can only be found on Ebay these days, you can still buy it in paperback. The book is short and spare and merely a sketch of the film version, but it can be read in an hour, and the premise is mostly the same. Hailey and Claire are twelve years old and have been friends their whole lives. This summer, however, is their last together, as Claire is about to move away with her grandparents. They spend the hot days of summer at a run-down beach club, mooning over Raymond who works at the club snack shop. One day after a violent storm, they discover something amazing: a mermaid has washed up from the ocean and landed in the club swimming pool. Now the girls must find a way to get Aquamarine back home before she “turns to dust.” Hoffman’s beautiful prose perfectly evokes the strangeness of the mermaid and the emotional heartbreak of leaving someone you love.
The movie expands on the book’s simple plot, but the message of true friendship remains intact. I recommend both, and I guarantee after reading Aquamarine you will want to check out more of Alice Hoffman’s young adult books, which you can find here.
Her latest for adults is The Dovekeepers.