Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

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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.

Full of rage and without a purpose, former pianist Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone discovering her past and to make the boy who took everything from her pay.

All 17 year-old Josh Bennett wants is to build furniture and be left alone, and everyone allows it because it’s easier to pretend he doesn’t exist. When your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space.

Everyone except Nastya, a hot mess of a girl who starts showing up and won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. The more he gets to know her, the more of a mystery she becomes. As their relationship intensifies and the unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he may ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding or if he even wants to.

The Sea of Tranquility is a slow-building, character-driven romance about a lonely boy, an emotionally fragile girl, and the miracle of second chances.

Please Note: This book contains mature content including profanity, drug/alcohol use, and sexual situations/language.

Kim's Rating:
6 out of 5 Stars

Kim's Review:
I never considered going over the 5 star rating system. 5 stars is amazing, so that should be the highest level. But this book just made me give it my first 6 stars because it was beyond amazing. It was one of a kind. It was gut wrenching, poignant, and beautiful.

Nastya is probably one of the most damaged heroines I have read. She covers herself in makeup and black clothes to alienate herself from the girl she used to be before she underwent a tragedy. She runs from her problems and hides behind a facade.

...under there somewhere. If you scrape off the makeup and dress me to look like a girl as opposed to what I look like now--a profanity-spewing guttersnipe being dragged out of a crack house on Cops.

Josh is hiding too. He has his own demons. In the first part of the book it is also like they are shielding themselves from the readers as well. You are affected by their avoidance techniques, you see them use humor as a weapon, and you see them being afraid to reach out to anyone...It moves slowly especially in the beginning, and I am not sure I was truly invested until maybe halfway through. 

Nastya: "At school, no one comes near you. When I first saw you on the bench in the courtyard. I wondered if you were surrounded by some sort of force field. I kind of wanted to get one for myself. You can hide in plain sight. It's pretty awesome."

They are drawn to each other despite themselves. And basically just pushes past his force field and he lets her in despite himself. And he can accept her even without truly understanding what has shaped and scarred her. Seeing their relationship, and her friendships with Drew, Clay, and Drew's parents are heartwarming and somewhat healing.

I know at that moment what he's given me and it's not just a chair. It's an invitation, a welcome, the knowledge that I am accepted here.He hasn't given me a place to sit. He's given me a place to belong.

Nastya: We're like mysteries to each other. Maybe I can solve him and he can solve me, we can explain each other. Maybe that's what I need. Someone to explain me

Nastya: It's bad enough my brain is a cesspool: I can't imagine the hellhole my heart would be if he wasn't in it.

Josh: I'm not enough. I'm no one's salvation. Not even my own. But I'm her and so is she and I can't let go. Maybe I don't need to save her forever. Maybe I can just save her right now, in this moment, and if I can do that, maybe it will save me and maybe that can be enough.

The journey is not easy. Secrets, tragedies, loss, self esteem issues, and insecurities are not easily forgotten or fixed. But this book is a beautiful story that unfolds slowly and captures you in a way that you cannot help but feel what they are feeling and have hope that healing can truly come. 

This book is emotional and hard, but this book is not depressing. Through the entire book there is sharp wit, sarcasm, and humor that makes you chuckle despite the heavy subject matter.

It's like The Breakfast Club in a powder keg in here and I'm wondering who's going to light the match. 

And it is uplifting too...there are many different facets of hope, forgiveness, and salvation. It is quite a journey, and I am so glad I took it. 

If my Sea of Tranquility were real, it would be this place, here, with him.

Thank you to netgalley and Atria books for allowing me to read and review this beyond amazing debut novel.

Tammy's Rating:
6 out of 5 Stars

Tammy's Review:
I have been in a book funk lately. Thank you Katjia Millay for writing such an amazing book and taking me way out of that funk! Sea of Tranquility was just amazing to read.

Sea of Tranquility is one of those books that just sticks with you, it leaves you feeling broken and then fixed, and then broken again. The cycle just continues till you reach the end. As I have said before these are my favorite type of books. I like books that make me think, that pull at my heart strings, that make me feel for my characters I have come to care about and that make me relate.

“We're like mysteries to one another. Maybe if I can solve him and he can solve me, we can explain each other. Maybe that's what I need. Someone to explain me.”

The first quarter to about half of the book moved a bit slowly I think because it was very descriptive. The author wanted you to connect with her characters. Once you got past that I flew through the pages devouring it up, bawling my eyes out, picking up pieces from my shattered heart, and finally understanding what made our hero and heroine tick.

We start out meeting Nastya(resurrection), a 17-year-old girl who had a tragedy happen to her that she is mute. Her choice. She hides herself from all those around her underneath black thick make up, black slutty clothes and high heels. To say Nastya is damaged is an understatement; I don’t think I have ever met a more damaged heroine. It was heartbreaking and it was hard to read at some points. It broke my heart watching her “ruin” herself even more than she already was.  My heart smiled when she blossomed with Josh & Drew. Drew and Nastypants used each other for protection inside school to hide who they truly were, but somewhere along the way, they became to love each other, and their friendship was founded on something more than just reputation protection. For the first time in over 400 days, Natsya was able to speak again, but only with Josh and Drew. Even once she started talking with them she was never her true self, to keep it all buried she built a wall so high no one was actually able to penetrate it. I also feel in love with Clay, she never spoke with Clay but she didn’t need too. You felt their friendship even in the silence. The gay boy and the mute girl two “freaks” at heart connected and grew before your eyes without any words.

“She’s like an optical illusion. You look at it from one angle, you see the picture, and you think you’ve got a lock on it and then it shifts and the image changes to something entirely different and you can’t find the original picture anymore. It is a serious mind fuck.”

Josh(salvation)notices Nastya in the courtyard the first day of school when she stops to stare a little too long at him. No one stops to stare at him; they all avoid him at all costs well except for Drew, his best friend.  Josh is almost as damaged as our heroine is. He isn’t too happy with Nastya just popping up whenever she wanted to at his house, and he felt a bit uncomfortable sitting for hours with a girl who wouldn’t speak. Whatever he did along the way worked because he was the first person she spoke too.  Josh was her safe heaven, he was her rock.  Her family. He didn’t push for more than she was willing to give, even though he knew she was holding back secrets that could hurt them. Josh was so tender with her. He denied loving her for the longest time, until he no longer could.

“I know at that moment what he's given me and it isn't a chair. It's an invitation, a welcome, the knowledge that I am accepted here. He hasn't given me a place to sit. He's given me a place to belong.”

They were beautiful together. Their souls meant to be, but getting there was not easy. It was not beautiful, it was painful and heart wrenching. They were both so broken and damaged that the slightest change tore them apart. Their friendship and love was not instant, it grew slowly sometimes at an excruciatingly slow rate. Together they hurt each other, apart they hurt each other.

“I don’t want you to save me, and I can’t save you.”

Even through all that they were drawn to each other, they couldn’t stay away. She talked to him when she wouldn’t even talk to her family. She ran to him when things were falling to pieces. When the secrets begin to spill Josh really shows what an amazing young man he is. He sacrifices his happiness for her happiness. Nastya begins to build her life again, and she knows there is no life without Josh.

“People like to say love is unconditional, but it's not, and even if it was unconditional, it's still never free.”


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