April 30, 2017

Girl Out of Water by Laura Silverman | Sunday Street Team

Girl Out of Water
Girl Out of Water
By Laura Silverman
Published on May 2, 2017
350 pages
Young Adult, Diverse, Contemporary

This book was provided to me by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I swear on my bookshelf that this has not affected my opinion of the book.
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.


Since I have no interest in surfing, skateboarding, or really anything that involves an adrenaline rush, I was really surprised when I ended up liking, and even relating to, Girl Out of Water. 

The synopsis originally drew me in, not because of the surfing and skating, but the promise of a summer read with fun at the beach and developing family dynamics. At first, it might not seem like they go together, but in Girl Out of Water, the equal parts of summer fun and deeper issues was a perfect balance.

My favorite character was by far Lincoln. Not only did he bring a diverse perspective to the novel, he also brought humor, level-headedness, and inspiration. He single-handedly spiced up the novel with his contrast to the main character, Anise. When it seemed like Anise was getting a little bit whiny and high-pitched, Lincoln was the voice of reason that kept her (and me) sane. They worked so well together and my interest in the novel exponentially increased with each of his appearances. But, he also had a part in my least favorite part of the novel...

The love triangle sucked. The first love interest had the literary equivalent of five seconds of fame and then somehow dominated her thoughts for half of the book. The triangle was just poorly developed and obviously skewed in the favor of Lincoln. I never really knew the first guy (I am even blanking on his name right now). He just flashed his abs in the beginning of the story, which I don't count as character development. So, I was never even invested in the whole storyline about her childhood and feelings for him. All he did was flash his abs in the beginning of the story, which I don't count as character development.

Speaking of brief characterization, the novel had a few side characters and storylines that I would have liked to see more tied up. Specifically, I had trouble with the conclusion of her relationship with her mother. There was potential for a deeper storyline, but there were so many detours, literally and metaphorically, that distracted from the issue at hand, and eventually, minimized the conclusion. Anise's friends also fall into this category since I would have liked to see more of their stories intertwined with Anise's.

On the other hand, I really enjoyed seeing her relationship develop between her aunt and cousins. Even though there was the stereotypical missing parent that is so common in YA books now, the family aspect was represented with the journey Anise took with her cousins. Unfortunately, recent YA novels have been missing the family aspect of life, especially with an extended family like aunts and uncles and cousins. Let's be honest, sometimes it can be hard to find a YA book with a good parent-child relationship let alone an aunt/niece relationship. I could easily relate to Anise's troubles and woes with her little cousins, as well as her seeming lack of freedom. At some point in everyone's life, we all feel a little trapped in our own lives. But, Anise's story showed that those who truly want freedom can find it anywhere.

What is one of your favorite summer reads? What do you think about wishy-washy love triangles? Do you know of any other summer reads with an awesome family dynamic?

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