Synopsis: (as told by the back of the book)
You go through life thinking there’s so much you need…
Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother.
Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.
This is a quietly perfect novel that captures moments of grief, loss, sexuality, and anxiety without trying too hard to be a book about any one of those topics. The story unfolds over you in a slow, sweeping way, kind of like the waves of the ocean so often invoked by LaCour. In her prose, LaCour never says more than she needs to say. And yet, this book makes you feel everything Marin feels, every twist and turn of her heart.
This novel does incredibly well at balancing the struggles inherent in being an eighteen year old girl with Marin’s exigent circumstances. Marin is being put through her paces as she grapples with her anxiety and her sexuality and whether or not she actually wants to study what she thought she wanted to study and the fact that New York is way colder than California and she has never owned a pair of snow boots in her life. But her life has simultaneously been rocked by an enormous loss and some days she is just barely getting through. And this book manages to be about all of the above and more.
By the halfway point, I knew this was one of my favorite books of the year. I had a hard time putting it down when I got off the subway to go to work on Tuesday morning, with only 50 pages left in the book. I seriously considered “missing” my stop (but I didn’t, I promise). By the time I read the final chapters, tears were streaming down my cheeks. At one point, I actually put my hand to my heart involuntarily. This book has an amazing ending. No spoilers, but it was exactly what I needed it to be without becoming something that would have been disloyal to the story.
Read this if you’re looking for a young adult book that will move all ages of readers. And if you’re not afraid to let the tears fall.