This story is loosely based on the classic tale, The Little Mermaid. Some characters have the same names as characters from the tale, and also the author does attempt to show that the two main characters are from two different worlds. It’s a modern day fairytale; and if I’m being honest, you really have to squint to see that it is a retelling of The Little Mermaid because other than names, it is very different from the tale. And if you skipped the synopsis that stated that it was a retelling, it would be hard to infer as you read the book.
It is an average story about a rich boy and a poor girl falling in love. Erik is the son of the North Carolina governor. Laire is the daughter of a fisherman and they live on a tiny island. She has two older sisters, and her mom died years ago. She cares for her dad because he’s had some health issues in the past and is sort of a fashion designer for her tiny island community.
Laire has big dreams. She wants to leave the island and go to college in New York. However, she is held back by her family. One day while helping her dad’s business she meets Erik. And the two begin a secret relationship. Eventually, something tears them apart for six years. But they do end up together in the end.
This is an extremely frustrating story. The plot is a little weak and lacks important development. The pacing is all wrong. It’s too fast. Loose ends are not resolved at the end and most of the drama was pointless.
However, those are not the source of my frustration. All of the characters were frustrating and varied on the scale of unlikability. I get the idea that characters need to be flawed; however, they also need to have some redeeming qualities. And if you plan to have them do unethical things, I’m going to need them to address that later on and understand that, that action might have been wrong. That shows character development.
Laire was incredibly naïve. I really had to suspend my disbelief for this character because of her upbringing. She was sheltered and lived on a tiny island. I think it was mentioned that three people graduated in her senior class. She is completely removed from the outside world. She does not have a cellphone or social media. Also, she doesn’t have any friends.
The book is told in third person, and I think that 1st person would have been more suited for it. Again, Laire is naïve, and it would have beneficial to see her internal thoughts. Maybe I would have understood her more.
I didn’t feel the chemistry between her and Erik. It felt very instalove, and I couldn’t really tell what they saw in each other. It was mentioned several times that they were physically attracted to each other, but I never got that emotional connection that I felt needed to be present. The book lacked any significant talk between the two that made me believe that they truly belonged with each other.
Besides her relationship with Erik, her relationship with her family was a major aspect of the book. She does go behind their backs because they would judge her for actions. Her family was very traditional in the sense that they believed that if you kiss a person, you have to marry that person. Their beliefs caused many conflicts and the created the idea that Laire had to be secretive.
The sister relationship was nonexistent. Both sisters turned their back on Laire without a second thought. They never stood up for her, and it could be determined that their loyalty to their dad blinded them.
One sister sort of helps Laire hide one of her many secrets from their dad. However, when their Dad finds out and Laire mentions her involvement in the situation, the sister completely flips out on Laire. As a whole, the problems that her and her family had were not resolved in the end.
Erik is supposed to be the “prince” but that can be debated. Erik grew more frustrating as the book went on. He’s somewhat decent when the book starts. He’s a little too persistent in the beginning when he tries to get Laire to go on a date with him. It’s annoying. But you could somewhat root for him in the beginning. By the middle of book, I began to grow frustrated with him.
He was hypocritical. For example, he got mad at Laire for hiding their relationship from her family, but literally in the next chapter, we find out that he is doing the same. Later, he tells Laire a lie because he doesn’t want to tell her that he has a female friend. Of course, this causes unnecessary drama, miscommunication, and more unnecessary plot points that would not be resolved until the end of the book.
One of my biggest issues with him is that in the second half of the book, after him and Laire are separated, he makes unethical choices that rubbed me the wrong way. He’s now successful in his career and has the authority to hire individuals for his company.
There’s a scene where him and his sister, Hillary (executive assistant), are looking at résumés. Erik throws three résumés in the trash and hands Hillary the other two. Hillary comments that the three contenders are more qualified than the ones that he handed her. The readers get a glimpse of Erik’s internal monologue, and he thinks “The other three are women” and to Hillary he says that he likes the contenders that he handed Hillary better. It is very clear that this has happened before because he already knew Hillary’s response and states that they have had this conversation before.
Hillary is the only female that works at this company because he refuses to hire women because he got his heart broken years ago. And according to him, Hillary is “rare among women, and therefore the only woman he allowed to get close to him in any way, shape, or form.”
This issue is never brought up in the book again; we don’t see Erik learn from this or attempt to explain himself more. This was frustrating because I’m supposed to root for him, but he’s being a little sexist and making choices that are off-putting. It felt like a quality that a villain would have, not a prince.
Don’t Speak is advertised as a modern tale of the Little Mermaid, but the book fails to prove that. It’s crowded with unlikable characters and unnecessary drama that lacks any significant development. It’s predictable and grows frustrating as it continues.