Author links: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
(Review copy from NetGalley)
Description (from Goodreads):
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.
This book caught my attention when the author Laura Silverman was being bombarded with absolutely hateful comments on Twitter. I love vocal people who are not afraid to express their opinions, so I instantly added this to my TBR. When I noticed it was auto approved for it on NetGalley, I didn't hesitate and instantly downloaded to my iPad.
Anise Sawyer loves her life on the beach. School is over for the year and her plans for the summer include surfing as much as possible and spending time with a group of friends she has been close with since she can remember.
All of a sudden, her plans for the summer come crashing down when her father tells her that they are set to fly to Nebraska on the next day. Very quickly, summer of surfing and bonfires on the beach turns into summer of babysitting for her aunt's children in the soaring heat of a Nebraska summer.
I absolutely loved Anise as a character, mostly because she felt so real to me. While reading about Anise, I felt like I was reading about a real teenager, about someone who is intelligent and kind, but also occasionally selfish and a bit melodramatic. She is flawed, but hey, aren't we all.
The relationship she has with her father was one of my favorite things about this novel. My father passed away when I was 12 years old, so the teenage me never had a relationship with my father, and I think that is one of the reasons I love reading about loving and caring father-daughter relationships.
The relationship Anise has with her mother is also a big part of the novel and I loved how Silverman was able to make the mother's presence tangible even touch she isn't really there for Anise in a way her father is.
Anise's familiar relationships are also focused on via her connection with her young cousins and it is in these interactions between Anise and the kids she has been told to take care of that Silverman's prose gets to really shine. I loved how in many ways Girl Out of Water is all about different kind of families and proves that not all families look the same. It also shows that while family life might not always be perfect, being surrounded by people you love makes it worth it.
Related to the question of the family is the concept of home. For Anise, Santa Cruz has always been home. Her house on the beach, her garage filled with surfing equipment, the hangouts she spends time at with her friends. Santa Cruz, in many ways, is who she really is and she has never felt a need to leave. When the trip to Nebraska forces her out of her comfort zone, Anise starts to think about what home really means to her and how to come to terms with the fact that life in Santa Cruz is going to keep going even when she is not there.
If you are a fan of contemporary romance, you won't be disappointed with Girl Out of Water. There's a guy she leaves behind -- someone she has known for a long time, someone who pretty much defines home for her -- as well as someone completely new and surprising, someone who makes her question a lot of things and someone who challenges her in a way she not been challenged in before. Fear not, there is no love triangle here, though.
I love romance and I think Silverman writes the romantic scenes very well. But I think as a whole, this novel is about much more than the possible new romantic interest that Anise meets during the summer. As mentioned, it is about family, about home, and perhaps most importantly, about a young girl making new discoveries about her life once she is removed from the setting she has always thought to be the only place in the world 100% made for her.
Silverman writes exceptionally well and as a whole, Girl Out of Water was an incredibly pleasant reading experience for me. I also want to give Silverman two thumbs up for the way she writes about disability.