Book Review – The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

Book Review – The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
Book Review – The Sea of Tranquility by Katja MillayThe Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
Published by Atria, Simon & Schuster
Publication date: September 5, 2012
Genres: Romance
448 pages
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased

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.

Former piano prodigy Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone learning about her past and to make the boy who took everything from her—her identity, her spirit, her will to live—pay.

Josh Bennett’s story is no secret: every person he loves has been taken from his life until, at seventeen years old, there is no one left. Now all he wants is be left alone and people allow it because when your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space.

Everyone except Nastya, the mysterious new girl at school who starts showing up and won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. But the more he gets to know her, the more of an enigma she becomes. As their relationship intensifies and the unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he will ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding—or if he even wants to.

The Sea of Tranquility is a rich, intense, and brilliantly imagined story about a lonely boy, an emotionally fragile girl, and the miracle of second chances.


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*** In celebration of the Atria paperback release of The Sea of Tranquility I am re-posting and revamping my review of this wonderful book.  If you have not had the honor of reading this book, I would suggest you bump it up on your to-read list.  It’s one of the best books I have EVER read.

Book Review:

“It was like feeling without knowing. Like a fever dream. Like the dream of second chances.”

It’s so hard to put into words how I feel about this book. Every word, every space, every punctuation mark was so perfectly and intricately placed to form the most beautiful story. My hat is goes off to Katja Millay for crafting such a heartbreaking, heartwarming, and ugly-cry inducing story. Thank you for this gift.

Something terrible happened to Nastya Kashnikov. She died, well figuratively. She lost her identity. In her post-death life, Nastya is a slave to structure, control, and illusion. After the “event,” Nastya moves out of her parent’s house and in with her aunt in a new town where no one will know her secret, and she’s not telling. Her life consists of merely existing. She goes on nightly runs, bakes ridiculous amounts of sweets, and writes her 3 1/2 pages before going to bed.

“I am pressed so hard against the earth by the weight of reality that some days I wonder how I am still able to life my feet to walk.”

Josh Bennett’s life has been defined by tragic losses. His mother and sister died in a car accident, his father died of a massive heart attack, and his grandparents lost their battles with cancer. He shuts everyone out of his life, except for his best friend Drew…and Nastya. Nastya embeds herself into Josh’s life. He doesn’t want her there, but she keeps coming back like a boomerang.

“You have no reason to trust me.”
“No, but I trust you anyway,” she says, walking out toward the driveway.
“And I’m supposed to trust you?” I say to her back. This girl is really crazy if she thinks she’s walking in here, out of nowhere, and expecting me to do that.
She stops, turning to level her eyes at me before she goes.
“You don’t have to trust me. I don’t have any of your secrets.”

From page one I was captured by this story.  The way Millay unfolds the mystery behind Nastya’s accident is pure art.  She reveals bits and pieces of the past through Nastya’s voice in a very deliberate way.  One of my favorite things about The Sea of Tranquility is Nastya’s inner dialogue. Even though she went through something so traumatic, she is so strong, intelligent, and witty.

“There’s nothing sunny or shiny about me, but after last night, he’s earned the right to mock me this morning. So yes, I think, at least for a little while, Josh Bennett can call me whatever the hell he likes.”

“Plus, once he did the requisite double-take and recognized me, he’d probably beat the crap out of any guy who looked at me in all my Snow White meets Frederick’s of Hollywood glory.”

This is a story about second chances and two people learning to love themselves and one another. Nastya and Josh’s friendship and subsequent relationship is one of those romances that make your heart go pitter patter.  Both of these broken people are terrified of what they feel for each other.  Both are scared that feeling this strongly for another person will destroy them.  Josh is used to people leaving and Nastya doesn’t feel worthy of being loved.  Their romance was slow-building, raw, and emotional, and it left me absolutely speechless. I felt every single emotion.

“I let him watch me. He lets me watch him. We never call each other on it. It’s a gift we give one another. No strings, no expectations, no reading between the lines.”

I love it when the secondary characters are just as great as the primary characters.  Drew Leighton, Josh’s best friend, was an interesting character to read.  Self-assured and smart, Drew keeps up with his playboy reputation by taking Nastya to parties and making her pose as his fake date to convince people their together.  Nastya is just fine with his game, as she is role-playing every single day.  The dynamic between these two was interesting. Nastya trusts him even though he takes her to questionable parties, and Drew is fiercely protective of her even though she has revealed very little to him.

The Sea of Tranquility was my number one book of 2012. Considering this is her debut novel, Katja Millay is a force to be reckoned with. I will read anything and everything Millay writes.  Heck, I’ll even read her grocery list.  I’m sure the way in which she crafts her grocery list is positively beautiful.

What is a book that left you absolutely speechless?  Why?

Review - The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

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