Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Coming of Age
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Reading Challenges: #DebutAuthorChallenge2017
Anise had her summer plans locked down. She was going to spend her days surfing and lazing about the beach with her best friends, as this was the last summer they all would be together. All her plans are destroyed, when Anise's aunt is in an awful car accident, that leaves her with two shattered legs and three pre-teen children to fend for themselves. Anise and her father heed the call of family obligation, and jet off to Nebraska to help as her aunt recovers. Being far from home sets Anise a drift as she attempts to navigate this new life away from everything she knows.
"But maybe that's part of what family is -- loving people you have nothing in common with."I pretty much plowed through this book. I found the story interesting, amusing, touching, realistic, and relatable. I fell in love with many of the characters, and found that it was terribly important to me, that Anise resolve her various issues before the end of the book. Or, at least resolve some of them. I needed her to move towards healing, so that she could get out from under that cloud and shine. Bottomline: I was totally invested in her.
"I wonder if, when you have children, your DNA mutates so that you'll do anything to make your kids happy........I wonder if my mom's DNA forgot to mutate."Anise was a pretty great person. She was athletic, competitive, a good friend, a great cousin, a wonderful daughter, but she struggled with several issues that held her back. First, she grappled with her abandonment issues. Her mother apparently had some serious wanderlust, and would drift in and out of her life. This gouged a huge hole in her heart, and made Anise afraid of leaving her home and her friends. She feared that she was just like her mother, and that if she left, she would just disappear, and never to return. This robbed her of experiences, and planted a lot of doubt in her mind, which later complicates things with her friends.
"The irony doesn't escape me that my mom's favorite sport is running."Not to fear, though. Silverman filled this story with some stupendous characters, who were there to help Anise wade through these difficult waters. Her best friend, Tess, is very different from Anise, but compliments her in so many ways. She is steadfast and forgiving, but also very honest. Everyone needs a BFF like that, who will keep them centered and dust them off when they've fallen down. Anise also had a wonderful father. His world was also shaken when his wife deserted their family, and she left him to care for their young child on their own. He rose to the challenge, and provided Anise with a great upbringing. He was open and was able to face those difficult topics with his daughter. He was just a wonderful dad. I saved the best for last - Lincoln. Lincoln was so, so special. Every page he inhabited sparkled and shined. His personality, his smile, his dimple, his lust for exploration -- it was all so infectious. When he was with people, he always made them a better version of themselves. Lincoln knew when to approach and retreat when dealing with Anise. He helped her dig deep and face those hard truths that she needed to confront in order to move on and free herself. He called himself a "skateboarding evangelist", and there was definitely some truth in that statement. In addition to simply being an amazing human, he represents people with disabilities and adoptees and so much more. He was by far my favorite character in this book.
I sort of love all the ways you can interpret this title with respect to Anise and her story. There is the literal, that when Anise has to leave her beloved beach and go to Nebraska, she finds herself more or less landlocked. I am not a beach person, but the way Anise waxes poetic about the ocean, the feel, the sounds, even made me sort of wistful for it. The ocean was her comfort zone. There she had mountains of confidence and could easily navigate the waters. She was also able to carry this confidence onto the sand, but this was all stripped away in Nebraska. Without the ocean, the beach, and surfing, Anise seemed to lose her identity and her confidence. She was unnerved as she was thrust into new situations, and was slow to acclimate. Then there is the figurative "out of water". Anise was thrust into many new situations in Nebraska with all her new roles, and this led to many internal struggles.
I was so happy with how Silverman allowed Anise to grow and find her way. It was a rocky journey, but she was definitely in a better place at the end of the story, than at the beginning, and that is what I expect in a good YA book.
Overall: A charming coming of age story filled with character who pop off the page and touch your heart.
**I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for the advanced copy of this book.
Do you surf or skate or do you want to try it?
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