Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

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.

Full of rage and without a purpose, former pianist Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone discovering her past and to make the boy who took everything from her pay.

All 17-year-old Josh Bennett wants is to build furniture and be left alone, and everyone allows it because it’s easier to pretend he doesn’t exist. When your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space.

Everyone except Nastya, a hot mess of a girl who starts showing up and won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. The more he gets to know her, the more of a mystery she becomes. As their relationship intensifies and the unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he may ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding or if he even wants to.

The Sea of Tranquility is a slow-building, character-driven romance about a lonely boy, an emotionally fragile girl, and the miracle of second chances.

“I miss him today. I miss him every day. I went to Home Depot tonight just to walk through the lumber aisle and try to breathe.” – Nastya

I can count on one hand the number of times I couldn’t find words to describe something, and this is one of them. The Sea of Tranquility left me speechless and essentially inarticulate.  I sat in front of my laptop just watching the cursor blink on the blank screen for almost twenty minutes trying to find the right words to describe the wonderful perfection that is this book. No matter what I say, it’s not going to be enough; I know that already. There are not enough words or phrases or stupid clich├ęs or metaphors for me to describe what this book did to me, but damn it, I’m sure going to try.

This is the story of a horribly broken girl, a loner boy, and their journey to help each other. On a tragic, fateful day while walking to a piano lesson, Emilia Ward becomes the victim of a brutal random act of violence. Her heart stopped for 96 seconds. She was dead. The doctors managed to save her life, but the Emilia Ward everyone knew and loved stayed dead on the operating table, and was reborn Nastya Kashnikov; a girl who wears all black clothing that leaves little to the imagination, an inch-and-half thick coat of make-up, and sky high stilettos. She refuses to speak a single word to anyone at all because if she doesn’t speak, she doesn’t have to answer questions about that horrible day. Then after moving two hours away to live with her aunt and escape all the memories that Brighton holds, she ends up meeting someone who just might be the key to her second chance; Josh Bennett.

Josh is a loner who chooses to keep to himself, although no one really makes an attempt to break his “force field.” He has an ugly cloud of death hanging over his head that seems to keep people at a distance, because what do you say to a kid who has lost his entire family? He minds his own business, builds furniture in his garage, and hangs out with his best and only friend Drew on occasion. Then Nastya starts showing up in his garage to sit and watch him work every night. Their bond becomes tighter, and Josh starts to realize that this silent, mysterious girl just might be his undoing.

This story did something to me. I read the last 60 or so pages at work, and after I finished it, I was sitting at my desk with tears streaming down my face. Six people came up to me and asked if I was okay. Do you want to guess what their faces looked like when I told them I was crying because of a book? Well, let’s put it this way: I think they all assume I’m the most emotional, possibly unstable person in our office now. *shrugs* It does start out slow, but I think I needed that. If you read this…nope, scratch that…WHEN you read this, please don’t give up on it. It is a slow start, but trust me, it’s necessary and it adds to the beauty of the journey. The slow building relationship between Josh and Nastya is just so incredibly perfect, and the way Katja manages to make their chemistry dance right off the pages and come alive is brilliant. I love these two characters so, so much.

The Sea of Tranquility raised the bar for all other books I read in the future. This story moved me beyond words. I went through an almost unbearable amount of emotion throughout this book, but it was worth single bit of it. Every smile, every laugh, every tear, every sob, every “you’ve got to be fucking kidding me!” that I yelled at my nook…it was worth it all.  This story is absolutely captivating, and you can be damn certain that when Katja Millay publishes another book, I will be one of the first people to get my little hands on it. 





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