Thursday, April 25, 2013


Where to Find TSoT: 

Where to Find Katja Millay:

This post will be dedicated to the last 50% of The Sea of Tranquility Read Along. Our post on the first 50% can be found here. 

WARNING: Most likely there will be SPOILERS as you scroll down.

***5 Stars***

As I mentioned in our first post on TSoT, I read this book many months ago but had absolutely no problem rereading it. Let me was just as good the second time I read it. 

The last 50% of this novel moved swiftly. We see the relationship between Nastya and Josh bloom. And wither. And bloom again. I loved his reaction to her when she first spoke to him. I loved that he was the first person she trusted enough to speak to. I loved that they didn't just jump each other's bones right after that momentous occasion and that their relationship was allowed to progress slowly and naturally. There are so many scenes I loved between them--the pennies at the fountain, the ice cream date(s), the nights in the garage--all so perfectly crafted and sweet. 

But! Of course it couldn't stay sweet forever. Both Nastya and Josh had too many hard edges to smooth out and so this last 50% contained the bumps and scrapes borne out of the hardships of the burdens they were living with. The break up was agonizing to read. The pain and hurt and self destruction. It still hurts and I KNOW it ends up okay. That's how good the writing in this book is!

In addition to the love story of Nastya and Josh, we also learn more about Drew and Tierney and why those two have a love/hate, love to hate relationship. I wish THAT could be explored in a book (HINT, HINT Katja!). Clay also shows up and it's through a day with him that Nastya begins the roller-coaster ride to healing. 

Here's how I came up with my 5 stars:

1) The writing was phenomenal. PHEN-OM-ENAL. I re-read so many novels with my students during the school year that it says something, I think, that I would willingly re-read this novel just a few months after I'd first read it. I knew that the writing was good. I enjoyed it the first time and the second time, it was just as sharp. The pacing, the character development, the dialogue, and the plot were all puzzle pieces that fit together so well you couldn't see the individual pieces--just the resulting product. The first time I read this novel I did the silent cry. The streams of tears. I don't do that never. I did for this novel. 

2) Nastya and Josh. They were broken but the were able to rebuild themselves. They were still rebuilding themselves at the end and I liked that they weren't perfect. I liked the mess and the hope that they could start finding themselves together and the promise of what that held for them. I also liked that it was so open at the epilogue 5 years later, no bow on the package...just a hope and desire (on my part) that they would find a way to navigate the world together.

3) The story. It wasn't just a romance. It wasn't just about self-discovery. It wasn't just about the mystery of Nastya. It wasn't just about the power of friends and family. It was all of things, plus some. It explored ideas about forgiveness and trust and hope and grief and love. 

4) The final line:: "your garage" . It gets me. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Perfection. The hints about this line were given on Nastya's first run when she finds herself standing there. I remember thinking...why is she so hung up on this garage. Why the niggling thought that kept pestering her? Well, Katja Millay, you blew me away with the answer. 

***5 Stars*** in the heck do you expect me to follow that!! So I'll say...What she said...*Throws down the mic*...

Just kidding! But really...

The last half of this book did go so fast. Which would explain why I stayed up half the night to finish it because I just could not stop. The pacing was incredible. Like you said they didn't rush things physically, and really didn't rush things emotionally either. When she spoke I think I about had a heart attack along with Josh. My favorite moments are Josh's thoughts while he's trying to figure out why Nastya sits in his garage every night. He tries really, really hard to get her out of there for sure. All of the examples you just gave with the pennies, ice cream, sitting in his garage are all reasons why no one would be able to help falling in love with Josh. But this story is not as simple as that. At all. 

Then omigah! Bring. On. The. Angst. Not that it isn't fairly angsty from the get go, but it really fires up. Nastya does her usual pushing everyone else away thing, which sets other events in motion. I really, really wanted to be mad at Josh. But then I  remembered that it was all Nastya's freaking fault that things went down the tube. Fantasies of shaking her like a rag doll to "wake up" and see what is in front of her instead of behind her ensued. I hated myself for it. Yeah. 

Drew and Josh and Clay, a little bit Tierney, and a lot Drew's Mom really help Nastya along her journey. They are great friends, but like all normal teenagers they make mistakes and have to learn from and live with them. The secondary parts of the story were just as intriguing as the main one and made me laugh and even cry and pray that Katja might someday give us a few more scenes from maybe their point of view. 

Okay...I gave this story 5 stars, and it has made it's way onto my "favorite books in my entire life" list. I don't do that easily, and trust me I have read and loved a LOT of books, but there was something about this one that was utterly breathtaking, moving, tragic, yet again so beautiful I haven't been able to stop thinking about it for days. I really just fell in love with this broken boy (Josh) who had to accept the cruelty of fate at such an early age. I hated how everyone regarded him (avoided him) but thought it was amazing how both he and Nastya are mature enough to realize the power of their words. Josh mentions several times that Nastya doesn't ever waste her words. I hadn't thought about this much before and haven't been able to stop since. Her physical wounds (that we figure out from all of her slow, subtle clues and know something bad happened to her) pass away, but the power of words can change things forever. She is holding in her words, but to what end and what cost? I admired how they would rather uphold an uncomfortable silence than say something they don't mean or push through said awkward silence with the hard questions that most people don't really want the answer to and aren't brave enough to ask. I really cannot follow up Shelley's "official" review any better than she did, so I will just stop here! My one final thought is now that it is over, I finally see all of the clues that led us to that final line. And it blew. my. mind. 


  1. I love this. I cry every single time I think of the last line. Every time!

    I got to meet Katja I'm February. And when we went out to dinner, I asked her a bajillion questions. I asked her how she came up w/that, and she said, it just came to her. To which I replied, BUT HOW!?!? (That may have been the sangria talking)

  2. Yes - the last line! I knew it was coming but it still made me tear up. So happy to hear you both liked it : )

  3. Absolutely loved it! Andrea--I'm so jealous that you met her and had dinner with her. JEALOUS!!!


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