when we believed in mermaids


“When We Believed in Mermaids”: An In-depth Analysis

“When We Believed in Mermaids” is a captivating novel by the accomplished author, Barbara O’Neal. The novel has gained extensive attention and a significant readership due to its riveting narrative, compelling characters, and emotional depth. This article provides a comprehensive exploration of this fascinating novel, dissecting its themes, characters, narrative style, and the emotional journey it takes its readers on.

Author’s Profile

Barbara O’Neal, an award-winning author, is celebrated for her remarkable storytelling and beautifully crafted prose. Her books have been translated to multiple languages and have garnered praises from readers worldwide. Her works often deal with complex relationships, emotional journeys, and personal growth.

The Narrative Style

The narrative structure of “When We Believed in Mermaids” is unique, as it alternates between the perspectives of two sisters, Kit and Josie, or Mari as she is later known. This alternating viewpoint provides readers with rich insight into the characters’ thoughts and emotions, and it deepens our understanding of their individual journeys.

Plot Overview

The gripping plot of “When We Believed in Mermaids” is centered around two sisters, Kit and Josie Bianci. Believed to have died in a terrorist attack fifteen years ago, Josie’s sudden appearance on a TV news report turns Kit’s world upside down. The sisters are forced to unearth deeply buried secrets and face devastating truths about their past to reclaim their relationship.

The Characters

The characters in “When We Believed in Mermaids” are complex and multifaceted. Kit, an ER doctor, and Josie, living under the name Mari in New Zealand, are the central figures. The development and growth of these characters throughout the novel are commendable, making them relatable and engaging.

Understanding the Themes

“When We Believed in Mermaids” explores various themes, including loss, grief, family secrets, trauma, and the power of love and forgiveness. These themes are woven into the storyline with great sensitivity and depth, making the novel emotionally resonant.

The Emotional Journey

The emotional journey that “When We Believed in Mermaids” takes its readers on is one of its most powerful aspects. The story is filled with heart-wrenching moments that tug at the heartstrings. However, it also offers moments of hope, healing, and reconciliation, making it a deeply moving read.

Critical Reception

This novel has garnered positive responses from critics and readers alike. It has been lauded for its compelling narrative, well-drawn characters, and deeply emotional themes. The plot twists and turns have also been appreciated for keeping readers engaged till the end.

The Setting

The novel’s setting alternates between Santa Cruz, California, and Auckland, New Zealand. The vivid description of the locales adds another layer of richness to the narrative, making the readers feel like they’re part of the story.

The Significance of the Title

The title “When We Believed in Mermaids” is metaphorical and reflects the themes of lost innocence and the power of belief. It signifies a time of innocence and naivety when the sisters believed in fantastical creatures like mermaids.


In conclusion, “When We Believed in Mermaids” is a profound and emotionally charged novel that delves into the complexities of familial relationships, the impact of the past on the present, and the healing power of truth and reconciliation. It’s a testament to Barbara O’Neal’s skill as a writer, as she weaves a narrative that is as captivating as it is thought-provoking.

Review Roundup

Several reviews of “When We Believed in Mermaids” have praised the novel for its compelling characters, emotional depth, and gripping narrative. The complex relationship between the sisters, the exploration of their past, and their journey towards reconciliation have been highly appreciated. The novel’s beautiful prose and evocative descriptions have also been commended.

Reader Responses

Readers have expressed their deep connection with the characters and the story, praising the novel for its emotional depth and beautifully crafted narrative. Many have found themselves deeply moved by the sisters’ journey, applauding the author for her skillful storytelling.


If you’re a fan of emotional, character-driven narratives with richly drawn characters and a plot that keeps you hooked till the end, “When We Believed in Mermaids” is a must-read. This novel is a perfect choice for book clubs, as it offers plenty of material for discussion.

Final Thoughts

In “When We Believed in Mermaids”, Barbara O’Neal has created a deeply moving and captivating story that explores the complexities of human relationships and the power of love and forgiveness. It’s a novel that stays with you long after you’ve turned the last page.


You can find “When We Believed in Mermaids” on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and your local bookstore. Don’t forget to add it to your To-Read list on Goodreads. You can also learn more about author Barbara O’Neal on her website.