Solin Hanna gives a glowing review of the YA novel The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
Self-inflicted mute Nastya Kashnikov wants nothing more than to get through life in her new high school as a miasma of anonymity. She craves a clean slate and to make the person who tore her life apart pay; yet can she really have both?
Josh Bennett is no mystery, everyone knows his story. By the age of 17, everybody whom he has loved has been torn from his life, and now he refuses to let himself get close to anyone.
And yet this all changes when Nastya falls into his life, giving him no choice but to care. When the worlds of these two teens collide, everything changes; secrets are revealed, mysteries uncovered; but can these two find it within themselves to see past their tragedies and to find solace in one another, or will their pasts come back to haunt them? Told in dual points of view, this book is incredibly moving and unforgettable.
Admittedly, the book has a slow build-up, but I believe that this reflects the reality of life. One’s stories unravel slowly, and this motif is reflected well throughout the book. With this debut novel, Katja Millay has raised many heads. I cannot find exactly the right words to express my feelings about this book. It was… beautiful, emotional, light-hearted and heart-wrenching at the same time. Two damaged teenagers, the survivors of equally devastating and traumatic tragedies, who come together and somehow find safety, love and happiness in each other, and slowly begin to heal together.
“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 characters are complex and beautifully presented and they each have so many layers to them, revealed chapter by chapter until they are presented to you in their rawest form. Nastya is both vulnerable and yet tough as nails, which is why I loved her so much. She was strong and intelligent and sarcastic. It is hard to find protagonists like this in YA novels. Then we have Josh, who was angry and damaged but strong with a heart of kindness and compassion. The Sea of Tranquility is a poignant coming-of-age novel that highlights the durability of the human soul.