Title: The Sea of Tranquility
Author: Katja Millay
Publisher: Atria Books, 2013
Nastya starts school in a new school district, one far away enough that she doesn't think anyone will recognize her as that girl. We don't learn right away what happened to her, but we know it was traumatizing enough that she has decided to stop speaking. But when she finds Josh's garage one night when she gets lost while running (a way for her to achieve complete exhaustion and some form of relief), she knows her life has changed forever.
Josh has no clue why the new girl chooses his garage to visit night after night, and he tries to get her to leave, but it's not working. He's used to being alone, to losing everyone close to him, and he's not about to start getting close to someone now. But this girl just won't quit. Soon they're pushed together not only by her compulsion to be with him in his garage, but by an unlikely mutual friend. And slowly, Nastya starts opening up.
This is a book about incredible loss, grief, love, and healing. Nastya's life was shattered two years before the book opens, but we have no idea what happened; we only know she was brutally attacked and left for dead. Josh's story is more quick in being revealed, but it's pretty heartbreaking. These teens have been through more in their short lives than many adults have, so it's no wonder they gravitate toward each other. I loved how Millay paced the reveal of Nastya's past; I thought she did it perfectly, slowly giving us clues until Nastya finds the courage to narrate it to us, or say it aloud. The romance was slow burning too, one that develops over time, and with some outside help.
I honestly wasn't impressed with the writing when I started reading this, with certain phrases and similes seeming forced and insincere, but that dissipates as the book progresses. And personally, I found the ending incredibly poignant and delightfully unexpected.
I ended up liking this one, if not for the prose, than for the character development and the story. Toward the end it turns into a bit of a thriller, and the compulsion to know what happened to Nastya kept me turning the pages. I'd recommend this one to a fan of YA who likes drama, a little mystery, and romance, especially if they tend to read books with darker themes. A light-hearted romance this is not.
Disclosure: I received an e-galley of this book via NetGalley.