❝ If my mom were here, she would know what to do. But she isn’t here. She’s never here when I need her, which is why I’ve learned not to need her.❞
*I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Synopsis via Goodreads: Anise Sawyer plans to spend every minute of summer with her friends: surfing, chowing down on fish tacos drizzled with wasabi balsamic vinegar, and throwing bonfires that blaze until dawn. But when a serious car wreck leaves her aunt, a single mother of three, with two broken legs, it forces Anise to say goodbye for the first time to Santa Cruz, the waves, her friends, and even a kindling romance, and fly with her dad to Nebraska for the entire summer. Living in Nebraska isn’t easy. Anise spends her days caring for her three younger cousins in the childhood home of her runaway mom, a wild figure who’s been flickering in and out of her life since birth, appearing for weeks at a time and then disappearing again for months, or even years, without a word.
Complicating matters is Lincoln, a one-armed, charismatic skater who pushes Anise to trade her surfboard for a skateboard. As Anise draws closer to Lincoln and takes on the full burden and joy of her cousins, she loses touch with her friends back home – leading her to one terrifying question: will she turn out just like her mom and spend her life leaving behind the ones she loves.
Laura Silverman’s debut novel was not a book that I originally had any intentions of reading, but after seeing it being pitched to fans of Sarah Dessen, I needed to see if this book would live up to its hype. If you don’t already know, Sarah Dessen is my favorite YA author of all time and being compared to her means you’ve got some pretty big shoes to fill. Fortunately, Girl Out of Water came pretty close to filling them…
Anise Sawyer plans on spending her last summer before senior year with her friends on the beach, catching the waves and playing truth or dare around a bonfire. But a change in the current leads her to spending her summer in Nebraska as she helps her father take care of her injured aunt and cousins. Feeling like a fish out of water, she tries to make the best out of the situation and things start to look up when she meets Lincoln Puk, local skateboarder extraordinaire who pushes Anise to take risks. Slowly, Anise feels herself drifting from her life and friends back in Santa Cruz, leading her to wonder if things will be the same once summer comes to an end.
Girl Out of Water is a coming of age story about adjusting to change, finding oneself and coming to terms with the past. What took me aback when it came to this debut was how easy it was for me to get lost in this story. It’s the type of writing I look for when I read contemporary YA: simple, sweet, no fluffy BS but still manages to make me feel something. I loved the strong, tight-knit friendships and the familial bond. What I especially liked, because it is rarely something I ever come across in YA, is the strong father-daughter relationship. It gets even better because they actually communicate and they look out for one another because it’s just the two of them. I want more positive father figures in YA!
Let’s talk about my new favorite secondary character: LINCOLN PUK. Damn, this dude just comes onto the page and you can’t help but love him. He’s a charmer, a sweet talker and just all-around good guy. Lincoln is disabled but never is is disability used to define him. He’s a great balance for Anise because he’s all about trying new things and taking risks considering his upbringing, so he helps to push Anise out her bubble and shows her that change is not such a bad thing. He challenges and that’s definitely what she needs right now.
Anise is a girl who has always played it safe. She’s guarded and isn’t willing to let people in so easily. She never really knew her mother since she’s never been around and Anise’s main struggle throughout this book, and her greatest fear, is that she will become like her mother. She fears being left behind and also leaving her friends behind because she’s never been apart from them. While in Nebraska, she is constantly being reminded of her mother and told how they share similar qualities and she hates it. The conflict in this book worked for me right up until the end and it’s why I didn’t end up completely loving this book. I didn’t feel like Anise’s issue with her mom was addressed enough. She’s always talking about never being like her mom and trying not to need her mom, but when it came down to the ending, all those issues were too easily resolved. I guess I just wish that aspect of the story was more fleshed out (maybe even having a scene where she confronts her mother), but that was really my only issue with this book.
Girl Out of Water is the perfect summer read about family, friendship and self-discovery. I’m really happy I gave this debut a chance and I definitely urge all of y’all to pick this one up too!