Friday, March 1, 2013

“The Sea of Tranquility” by Katja Millay

Age: Young Adult
Genre: Fiction

My lungs feel okay, but my stomach is teetering. I’ve been out of commission for a little while lately, so hopefully I can tap myself out easily tonight. With every step, I stomp out the shit in my head until it’s all but gone. It will come back in the daylight, when I’m replenished enough to think, but for now it’s away and for now that’s enough.

Teenager Nastya Kashnikov has left her old life behind and started over, living in a new town with her aunt, who she rarely sees. Every night Nastya runs. She runs hard and fast, pounding out the memories of what happened. The day that changed everything. The day that changed her from a pearls and skirt-wearing piano prodigy to a speechless, angry, mystery of a person dressed in black. She runs until she throws up, then runs some more. But one night she finds herself outside a house she’s never seen before. The garage door is open and inside is a boy from her new school: Josh Bennett. At school he keeps to himself like she does and no one ever bothers him. It’s like he has a force field around him, but she doesn’t know why. And he doesn’t know anything about her. But how can anyone get to know a girl who doesn’t speak?

Author Katja Millay presents Nastya and Josh’s story in dual perspective, which works well because we can see how each truly reacts to the other. Even though we are in Nastya’s head a lot of the time, we don’t know the details of what happened to her until just before Josh does. The author teases the incident so slowly that we spend much of the book playing detective, trying to guess at what life-shattering incident befell her. This drawing out created a lot of tension when reading the book, but it was a good tension because it kept me reading. Millay has created characters that seem very real in the way they react to being damaged in life, and I wanted them to be happy and healed. Of course that isn’t easy, but it’s good to watch them grow throughout the text.  I felt the other characters supported the story well and were very nuanced. The author provided each of them with his or her own problems and not just as flat stand-ins for family and friends. Teen and adult readers should enjoy this book as they watch young lives grow through darkness and light.

Bibliographic Information:
Millay, Katja. The Sea of Tranquility. New York: Atria Books, 2013.

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