Indie rock star, Greta James, breaks down on stage after the death of her mother, the world catching it on camera and making her grief go viral. Pushing back the launch of her sophomore album, Greta takes her mothers place on a 40th anniversary cruise to Alaska with her father, a man that she loves but that she’s always had a rocky relationship. Maybe this trip will help bridge the gap and keep her from losing both of her parents. While cruising she meets Ben Wilder, a guest speaker about a novel he’s written based upon The Call of the Wild. Ben is also going through personal loss, his broken marriage and missing his two little girls. In each other they find something that connects them and may help them overcome their trauma.
I have read two other books by this author and have loved them all. She balances drama and happiness so deftly and takes me on a journey that stays with me for awhile. Greta was an interesting character. Her first love is playing the guitar and everything in her life has taken a back seat to her commitment to be the best. Her father has spent her life worrying that she is choosing something that is doomed to bring her heartbreak, and despite her success he can’t help but lecture and push her to take a safer route. It’s actually kind of sweet if you think about it, but super frustrating as well. When she meets Ben, he becomes a safe place for her to escape from her complicated emotions surrounding her mother’s death and her feelings for her father but as the days pass she realizes that he is going through his own mixed up life and their vacation romance may be just that.
One of my favorite side characters is a young girl on the ship who idolizes Greta. She makes a great contrast to where Greta was in her childhood and where she is now in her own life. By helping this girl with her own guitar playing she gives her something that she never received in return. I thought that was a really neat circle of life moment that tied the drama in the book together really well and added moments of joy that I can’t say were missing but were only sprinkled sparingly through the book. It’s funny how having those brighter moments makes the contrast that much greater, isn’t it?
This was a very well planned, well executed novel. I really need to go back and read through Jennifer E. Smith’s backlog of books. I bet there are quite a few other nuggets of gold to be discovered.
I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest.
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