Just after the sudden death of her mother – her most devoted fan – and weeks before the launch of her high-stakes second album, Greta James falls apart on stage. The footage quickly goes viral and she stops playing. Greta’s career is suddenly in jeopardy – the kind of jeopardy her father, Conrad, has always warned her about.
Months later, Greta – still heartbroken and very much adrift – reluctantly agrees to accompany Conrad on the Alaskan cruise her parents had booked to celebrate their fortieth anniversary. It could be their last chance to heal old wounds in the wake of shared loss. But the trip will also prove to be a voyage of discovery for them both, and for Ben Wilder, a charming historian who is struggling with a major upheaval in his own life.
In this unlikeliest of places – at sea and far from the packed venues where she usually plays – Greta must finally confront the heartbreak she’s suffered, the family hurts that run deep, and how to find her voice again.
I adored this novel.
Both Greta and Conrad are complicated, complex characters but beneath it all, they grieve for the person they have lost and find it hard to communicate. Greta is just trying to hang on to the one thing in her life to which she truly feels she belongs – being a musician.
Both Father and Daughter are very relatable. At least to me. I’ve known the grief Greta feels. The themes of grief and loss were handled with care and grace. I wanted Greta and Conrad to be ok.
Ben is an interesting character and is exactly what Greta needs. I rooted for them all the way through and hoped it would be a happy ending. Ben is also trying to process a big change in his life and is trying to come to terms with a different kind of loss.
There were many sad, uncertain moments in this book. There were also many moments where I laughed and smiled along with the characters.
The setting for this novel – the ship itself and the Alaskan landscape, are so vividly described and really came to life in this book, almost becoming a character of its own. It’s made me all the more determined to experience an Alaskan cruise myself. It sounds stunning.
You know me. That’s all I am going to tell you in case I spoil it.
The unsinkable Greta James is about love, loss, family and finding someone you didn’t know you needed in the most unexpected of places. It’s heartfelt and I couldn’t put it down.
The overall message I took from it is that even if you lose someone close to you, it’s ok to allow yourself those moments where you truly feel happy.
(Thank you to Jennifer and Quercus for an advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review.)
About Jennifer E. Smith:
Jennifer E. Smith is the author of nine books for young adults, including The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight and Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between, both of which have recently been adapted for film.
She earned a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and her work has been translated into thirty-three languages.
She currently lives in Los Angeles.
Novel Kicks is a blog for story tellers and book lovers.