The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

ISBN:  9781476730943 (paperback)
ISBN:  9781476730936 (ebook)
ASIN:  B009R44MQ8 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: June 4, 2013 (paperback)
Publisher: Atria Books

I live in a world without magic or miracles. A place where there are no clairvoyants or shapeshifters, no angels or superhuman boys to save you. A place where people die and music disintegrates and things suck. I am pressed so hard against the earth by the weight of reality that some days I wonder how I am still able to lift my feet to walk.

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.

Nastya Kashnikov is seventeen years old and has recently relocated from her hometown to a town two hours away to live with her aunt. Her goal is to complete her senior year of high school in relative anonymity. All we initially learn about Nastya is the she is mute and has an extremely daring style of dress, described as Goth meets Frederick of Hollywood. Her goal is not to make friends but to be left in relative anonymity (difficult with her in-your-face style of dress). We learn that Nastya is compelled to run until she’s exhausted and bakes complicated desserts from scratch. We also learn that Nastya has an affinity for names, collecting them and discovering their meaning. 

As the new and somewhat strange girl at school she quickly garners the attention of the big-man-on-campus, Drew Leighton. Drew is a huge flirt and initially his only goal is to try and “score,” but he quickly comes to like what little he knows about Nastya and uses her as a shield of sorts. Drew’s best friend, Josh Bennett has suffered from a number of tragedies during his short life. His mother and sister were killed in a car accident when he was eight years old. He quickly learned that he could literally get away with anything including beating other kids up. The other kids quickly learned to give him a space and to leave him alone, everyone except Drew. Josh’s father dies just a few years after his mother and sister’s deaths, followed by his grandmother and now his grandfather. At seventeen Josh is an emancipated minor and a gifted woodworker-carpenter.

Josh and Nastya become friends as a result of a wood shop class. This friendship evolves into more and eventually Nastya’s elective mutism ends with her speaking first to Josh and then to Drew. Even though she is willing to speak to them, she never reveals the trauma she’s suffered or why she’s separated from her family. Both Josh and Nastya have had tragic lives. Josh slowly reveals his tragedies to Nastya, but she’s never quite willing to reveal hers. Is it possible for two young people to save themselves while being there for one another?

The Sea of Tranquility is a hauntingly beautiful and dramatic story about life, families, love, hope and second chances. Ms. Millay has crafted an amazing story that deals with emotional and physical trauma. The characters are flawed and portrayed in a candid and realistic manner. I found The Sea of Tranquility to be a rather fast-paced read and one that pulled me in emotionally from the beginning to the end. I felt the despair and hope along with the characters as Nastya’s past is slowly revealed. The build-up to the ending left me feeling slightly unsettled but I realized it probably couldn’t have ended any other way. The Sea of Tranquility has been classified as Young Adult, New Adult, Contemporary Fiction, Realistic Fiction and even Romance. It doesn’t really matter what it is classified as, it is quite simply a compelling read. If you enjoy contemporary fiction filled with family drama, self-discovery, and romance, then this is one book you don’t want to miss reading.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Author: thebookdivasreads

I'm a reader, an avid reader, or perhaps a rabid reader (at least according to my family). I enjoy reading from a variety of different genres but particularly enjoy fiction, mystery, suspense, thrillers, ChickLit, romance and classics. I also enjoy reading about numerous non-fiction subjects including aromatherapy, comparative religions, herbalism, naturopathic medicine, and tea.

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