Saturday, October 19, 2019

Book Review: "The Last True Poets of the Sea" by Julia Drake

Holy hell, I loved this book so much.

Violet and Sam Larkin’s great-great-great-grandmother Fidelia survived a shipwreck off the coast of Maine. Her arrival in the town of Lyric, and her subsequent marriage, are the stuff of legend. And Fidelia’s story has always made the family believe they’re survivors.

"I didn't even have a driver's license, but I was an expert in the art of catastrophe."

Yet as Violet becomes wilder, experimenting with drugs and sex, Sam’s emotional problems become more serious, and it’s clear neither is surviving that well. When Sam tries to take his own life, and Violet responds with inappropriate behavior, their parents send her to Lyric for the summer, the place where their mother grew up and Violet and Sam’s family used to vacation.

Violet’s goal is to become more invisible, which is hard to do when you’re beautiful, musical, and nearly six feet tall. Yet she shaves her head and tries to take up as little space as possible. Working at the town’s struggling aquarium and trying to find the courage to write to Sam, she meets a circle of friends who make her want to open up, even just a little. Among them is Liv, an amateur history buff who has been obsessed with the mysteries behind Fidelia’s shipwreck and what transpired when she came to town and met the man who would be Violet and Sam's great-great-great-grandfather.

Inspired by the desire to help Sam, Violet gets drawn into Liv’s obsession, and they decide to find the shipwreck despite the fact it never was found. Along the way Violet will realize where her heart lies and understand how worthy she is, and how much she needs to be seen.

This book was so beautiful and emotional and I loved it from the start. There’s so much to this story—the need to be loved and understood, family dysfunction, emotional issues, sexuality—and Julia Drake has done such a terrific job with it. Her writing is imbued with such rich emotion, her prose is poetic at times, and her characters are fascinating—they're layered, complex, and not entirely sympathetic.

While reading this book I was reminded of two of my favorite YA books, I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson and Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley. Both of those books, as well as this one, mesmerized me with their power, left me emotional, and touched my heart in an unforgettable way.

No comments:

Post a Comment