I was in a bit of a reading funk, having started a couple of books that were just moving too slowly for me when I started to see tweets galore about how awesome The Sea of Tranquility was. I needed something like that in my life right away, so I started this and found it very difficult to put down. Thank you, Brittany, for pushing this one so hard– it was just what I needed!
Nastya and Josh have suffered some pretty extreme traumatic events in their short lives. Josh deals by distancing himself from others and by trying hard to not care. Nastya is overcome by anger and has started over at a new school to try to get away from the expectations and disappointment of her family. Nastya finds herself drawn to Josh because he doesn’t have any expectations for her and he doesn’t seem afraid of her. The two get to know one another and form a close relationship, but Nastya’s secrets remain as a wall between them. With all the trauma in their lives, is it possible for the two to get a second chance at happiness with one another?
This book had so, so many highlights to it. The pacing and character development were brilliant. The fact I cared about these characters totally snuck up on me… Millay roped me in with curiosity about what had happened to make Nastya so difficult and angry, but by the time I found out, I was totally invested in her and her story. I had no idea I wanted these two kids to make it together so bad until problems started happening and I was in tears. I can’t pinpoint what made me enjoy the characters so much, other than that they were deep and real. They had been dealt some really crappy situations and they reacted appropriately. There were no miracles. Love didn’t cure them of their problems. There was no saving one another. Love helped moved them in the right direction, but the desire and impetus for change and healing had to come from the individuals. And it wasn’t easy. I have to applaud Millay for treating their emotionally fraught situation with such delicacy and realism.
Another tidbit I really enjoyed was the importance of names to the story and to the characters. Nastya means “resurrection” and Josh means “salvation.” Resurrection and salvation are important themes in a story about second chances and it was interesting to see characters whose names had meaning. This extends to minor characters, as well. Drew, the playboy with a heart of gold, means “manly.” His irritating, superficial sister is named Sarah, meaning “princess.” Nastya’s real name, Emilia, means “rival” which is really fascinating as she seems to be at war between her two selves. Anyways… the focus on names was interesting and I think I appreciated it quite a bit as my husband and I spent A LOT of time recently trying to coming up with a name for our baby.
The title of the book is also interesting. The Sea of Tranquility is a dark spot on the moon and it seems relevant to the story because Josh and Nastya come together to find a little peace in a very dark time for them. At least, that is how I interpreted the title’s significance.
Final little tidbit is that I loved the romance in this book. It was really sweet. Josh calls Nastya Sunshine which is an ironically appropriate nickname. She’s a pretty dark girl, but she is his sunshine. And there is a scene where they fall asleep together, holding hands. And I’m sort of a sucker for sleeping while holding hands, so yeah, this melted my Grinchy-little heart. It is all appropriately awkward, yet sweet in that way that first love often is.
This book was an emotionally intense experience. It squeezed my heart and took me by surprise. I can see this book appealing broadly, from older teens (there is some sexual innuendo and content) to adults and from readers of romance to readers of memoir. Definitely keep it in mind for those times when you want a story that will really affect you and tug at your heartstrings!