Title: Girl out of Water
Author: Laura Silverman
Genre: YA Contemporary
Distinctive qualities: Surfing; skateboarding; Samoan side character; black love interest who is adopted (and has a Vietnamese father) and has one arm; family dynamics (father-daughter relationship and cousins who love each other a lot); road trip; f/f side couple.
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?
“Why do so many people equate growing up with leaving?”
Thanks to Sourcebooks Fire and Netgalley for providing me with an e-ARC of Girl out of Water!
Girl out of Water is a stunningly-written novel. The prose flows smoothly and slowly. It creates the illusion of calmness and imitates the feeling of a lazy yet happy summer day. I like taking my time with books, to process and absorb each sentence carefully. Girl out of Water was the most perfect book to read that way; it seems to be naturally made to be read like that.
Anise is a relatable character. Even though we’re very different, I could empathize with her feelings, her decisions and her fears. It was so realistic that she wanted to help her family but she also yearned to be home with her friends, even if it made her feel selfish. She was struggling with wanting the best for both her family and herself, knowing that she couldn’t have both things at the same time. I also appreciated her struggle with missing her friends, but not wanting to talk to them because she felt left out of everything they were doing. That felt very realistic as well.
Another great thing about this book is how diverse Anise’s group of friends is. Her best friend, Tess, is Samoan. Two of her other close friends are girls in a relationship. Her love interest, Lincoln, is black, adopted and has one arm. His dad is Vietnamese and his brother is also adopted. This world is way more realistic (do you see a theme in the things I’m pointing out?) and amazing than one in which everyone is white, straight and able-bodied. The real world doesn’t look like that. It’s nice whenever an author makes an effort to include different identities in their work and does it respectfully.
I don’t have anything to say else to say about Girl out of Water aside from this: Read it! It’s beautiful and meaningful without being sad, and it’s the perfect summer read. It’s my favorite YA contemporary of the year so far.