The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
Former piano prodigy Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone learning about her past and to make the boy who took everything from her—her identity, her spirit, her will to live—pay.Josh Bennett’s story is no secret: every person he loves has been taken from his life until, at seventeen years old, there is no one left. Now all he wants is be left alone and people allow it because when your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space.Everyone except Nastya, the mysterious new girl at school who starts showing up and won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. But the more he gets to know her, the more of an enigma she becomes. As their relationship intensifies and the unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he will ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding—or if he even wants to.The Sea of Tranquility is a rich, intense, and brilliantly imagined story about a lonely boy, an emotionally fragile girl, and the miracle of second chances. (Goodreads)
Nastya is new in school, beginning her senior year miles from home, far from her parents and brother –who all love her and are concerned for her–all because she needs to hit the reset button to escape a past that forever changed her.
Josh is a good guy but he’s had a tough time. He’s lost basically every person in his family, each tragically, and it seems as if he’s doomed to be a loner–no parents, no siblings, no one to share his life with. Like the rest of the school, he’s intrigued by Nastya, by the harsh makeup, by the way she dresses–like she’s begging for attention, then pushing everyone away. And he wonders why she doesn’t say a word. Not one. What happened to completely silence this girl?
Nastya and Josh are inevitably drawn together, of course, because what sort of love story would this be without the love and attraction? Nastya finds comfort in being around Josh, in watching him each night in his garage as he does woodworking, in the fact that he’s not bothered by her silence or her obvious mood swings, in that he lets her be, he lets her ignore him at school and then come wandering over to his home late at night with no reason, no words. None of it seems to bother him. Eventually, this guy draws Nastya out. There’s so much she’s hiding, things so painful, so dramatic they’ve permanently marked her, physically and emotionally scarred her. There’s anger buried deep within her and fear that makes her run, ashamed of who she’s become. Josh wants to help Nastya find her way back, but it’s really something she has to decide to do all on her own.
Holy wow, I loved this book. I mean, words can barely express it. It’s beautiful, breathtakingly raw and honest, so perfectly done. One of the best aspects is that the author tells the story from Nastya and Josh’s alternating perspectives, so we watch the hurt and emotion each feels, we get inside their heads, we see the rise and fall of the love and the pain. They are each so lovely and broken in their own ways, Nastya particularly so. What they find in each other is beyond mere friendship or romance; it’s peace.
Do yourself a favor and please, please read this book. Don’t skip it. Put it on your TBR list right now. I’m so glad my friends, Brittany, Sandie and Candice all convinced me because this a book I thought about long after I finished reading it.
Crush Intensity: 5/5 Perfect. And the last line of the book? To die for. If I could, I’d put it in my pocket and save it forever. Loved it.
I know at that moment what he’s given me and it isn’t a chair. It’s an invitation, a welcome, the knowledge that I am accepted here. He hasn’t given me a place to sit. He’s given me a place to belong. –Nastya
And maybe I’m a liar and I do need it, because being kissed by Josh Bennet is kind of like being saved. It’s a promise and a memory of the future and a book of better stories.–Nastya
And as much as I’m telling her to stay here, I still want her to choose to come with me. To say fuck sanity and healing and closure. To say that I am the only thing she needs to be well and whole and alive. But we both know that’s not true.–Josh
Thank you to Net Galley and Atria Books for giving me an e-galley of The Sea of Tranquility in exchange for an honest review.