by Katja Millay
Published by: Simon and Schuster
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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.
Katja Millay blew me away with her gritty, breathtaking, and intense story. Sea of Tranquility brought us the story of two characters that will steal your heart. It’s a story of love, heartbreak, forgiveness, and hope. As much as I wanted to savor this I quickly became immersed and consumed it. Three-word review: beautiful, breathtaking and memorable.
The tale begins when we meet Nastya Kashnikov as she enrolls for her senior year of high school. Dressed in black and living away from her parents, we know something tragic has happened. She is medicated, in counseling and has created this wall around herself and her emotions. We then meet Josh Bennett, a high school senior carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. Josh moves through life wanting to be left alone and loses himself in building furniture with his hands. Chance encounters have the two meeting and the tale that unfolds will have you catching your breath one moment and wiping a tear the next.
Imagine a girl walking down the hall as she passes you, she is staring straight ahead with dyed black hair, black eye makeup, cherry red lipstick, sporting a tight black t-shirt and tiny skirt with a pair of stilettos. She never speaks or makes eye contact but you will have walked right past Nastya. She is complex, beautiful, gifted and so messed up inside. She reveals her tragic story to us slowly and her voice is beautiful and captivating. You feel so many emotions towards Nastya from wanting to cocoon her and protect her to wondering what nightmare things she is capable of. Josh has a voice in this novel too and it’s equally touching. He has suffered more loss in his life than any one person should have to bear and yet there is such sweetness to him. The voice Katja gave him as he shared his story touched me so deeply as a mother and wife. Have you ever had the type of cry, where the tears fall silently down your face and you can barely see the pages anymore? That is Josh’s story. Together they create this strange exotic dance. As they unraveled they build a friendship, learned to trust, opened up and ultimately experienced love. It’s raw, emotional, awkward, silly, and tender. It is so unbelievably real that you become completely invested in them. I found myself rooting for them and hoping against hope that they find a happy place. Drew, family, and friends all helped reveal them to us and were equally interesting characters.
Sea of Tranquility is so much more than a romance; it’s a character-driven journey that involves friends, family, and heart. As the reader, the author weaves you into the tale as you feel and experience every emotion through the characters. Her writing style and ability to give voice to the characters was breathtaking. This is the type of book that is meant to be read slowly and savored. Granted, I got swept up in the tale and consumed it in less than two days, but I have already gone back just to read some of the paragraphs again. It is the type of book you can reread again and again. Here is a quote that I love:
“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.”~ Nastya; Sea of Tranquility
Seriously?!? Can’t you just feel her emotions! Katja and her characters captured my heart as they shared this story of loss, forgiveness, and healing. The author’s grasp of our ability to endure and overcome was so powerfully portrayed. You know that book high I am always chasing? This book delivered that and more. Yes, it’s full of angst, but it is beautiful, emotionally draining, hopeful and cleansing. It is a book I will recommend to my daughter, my best friend, my mother and my grandmother. It is timeless, poignant and breathtakingly beautiful.
Break out the tissues, grab the chocolate or wine and a copy of Sea of Tranquility. Put on your favorite comfy outfit,(you know exactly what one I am talking about), grab a cuddly blanket, turn off the phone and surrender your heart. You won’t regret it. Honestly, I would buy this author’s next book sight unseen.
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