Monday, 15 July 2019

sells sea shells by Mara Mer

sells sea shells by Mara Mer
Published by Mari Reiza in April 2019.

2019 New Release Challenge read and one of my 2019 COYER Summer Hunt reads

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the author

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

'Ismail is young, strong and handsome. He's also the proud owner of a heart-bursting smile. Yet despite all his enviable attributes, nobody wants him wherever he's passing.' A Moroccan immigrant strikes an unlikely friendship with an Italian client at the beach. When the man asks him to do something for him, he struggles to refuse his money. In any case, someone else carries out the deed before he does. A book about the despair and hope of exile.

Ismail spends his days walking across a stiflingly hot Italian beach wearing a stack of sunhats, carrying a heavy bag of sarongs and a board displaying sunglasses and jewellery - some of which he hopes to sell to holidaymakers. An illegal immigrant from Morocco, this is his second summer working ridiculously long hours for a pittance, despised by the locals, but all in the hope of sending back enough money to keep his mother and sisters and to earn enough to pay for his Italian residency permit. His dream is to become legal so he can get a job as a waiter - working ridiculously long hours for a pittance, but at least he might be out of the sun.

I felt as though Mara Mer completely understood Ismail and the catch-22 predicament in which he finds himself. In many other novels, handsome and hardworking Ismail would be the romantic lead, but because of his status here he is practically invisible until a knockoff pair of sunglasses or a scapegoat is required. Mer beautifully evokes the Italian summer environment and its styles of seaside living. Super-rich holidaymakers laze by infinity pools while grumpy bar staff protect their territory and pour beers. I loved Mer's portrayal of the beginnings of Ismail's relationship with wealthy Matteo. This plotline didn't go anywhere near where I had expected from the synopsis, and it felt nicely realistic throughout. Both men believe the other could be their salvation and I liked that Mer doesn't get bogged down in explaining unnecessary detail. My only negative is that I didn't like the Rosa ending which I didn't think fitted with what had come before. However, overall, I very much enjoyed this slice of life novella which gives readers an insightful glimpse into lives which are all too often ignored.

Etsy Find!
by Christina Christi Jls in
Athens, Greece

Click pic to visit Etsy Shop

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Mara Mer / Contemporary fiction / Books from Basque Country


  1. This book has a really interesting subject matter. The characters seem like real, complicated people. It would be a good read, I think.

    1. The characters are very real. Mara Mer has done a good job in portraying them