A pretty girl leaves her parents' house to live with her aunt, and to attend a different high school for her senior year. She wears thick, black eyeliner and hooker clothing, and she calls herself Nastya yet has no Russian heritage. Although she doesn't speak, she radiates rage.Why
does she do this?
So begins the mystery of The Sea of Tranquility
. This book sucks you in and doesn't let you go.
When I read:My eyes are drawn to the old-school metal hand-crank pencil sharpener on the principal's desk. I focus on the ring of adjustable pencil holes and wonder idly if my pinky finger would fit into any of them. I'm contemplating how much it would hurt to sharpen it, and how much blood there might be...
...I knew Nastya had experienced something horribly nasty in her life.
At the "highly unsupervised hell dimension" otherwise known as lunch, Nastya notices a boy who everyone avoids, like he has a force field around him. His name is Josh, and he loves woodworking. Josh has pain of his own, having suffered the deaths of his parents, sister, and grandparents.
Nastya jogs at a punishing pace in the Florida heat in order to calm her agitated mind. On one run, she stumbles upon Josh doing carpentry in his garage. He doesn't say much, and she doesn't talk at all. But a few nights later Nastya returns to watch him work. She's constantly observing, taking in every movement.
The sob-fest started for me when Josh makes her a chair. I had the great fortune to win cookies for this book (see the cover cookie above). Check out this gorgeous quote about this momentous event in their relationship:
Josh is friends with man-whore Drew, and by extension, Nastya becomes Drew's friend too. I loved the complex characterization. To say Nastya doesn't trust easily is the understatement of the year, yet somehow she allows both Josh and Drew into her circle of trust. These teens are smarter and wiser than their years. Listen to this astute observation Nastya makes:I stayed in therapy long enough to know that nothing that happened to me was my fault. I didn't do anything to invite it or deserve it. But that just makes it worse. Maybe I don't blame myself for what happened, but when they tell you that something was completely and utterly random, they're also telling you something else. That nothing you do matters. It doesn't matter if you do everything right, if you dress the right way and act the right way and follow all the rules, because evil will find you anyway. Evil's resourceful that way.
Chilling yet true. We have trouble accepting that bad things aren't all fault because when we do, we give up all control for preventing the bad stuff from happening again.
I also loved the snarky voice of the author, like:Immoral people debating the existence of God is always a crowd pleaser.
Josh refers to Nastya as "Sunshine", LOL.
But when Nastya and Josh share a moment of connection, her face does shine like the sun:
Thank God there's not a cliffhanger after all the pain these characters endure. Thank God for resolution and healing -- realistic
healing, like:I'm trying to see the magic in everyday miracles now: the fact that my heart still beats, that I can lift my feet off the earth to walk, and that there is something in me worthy of love.
Amen, Nastya and Josh. You're both quite lovable.
I implore you to pick up this book and fall in love with these characters just like I have.