September 27, 2016 debut
Otis and Meg were inseparable until her family abruptly moved away after the terrible accident that left Otis’s little brother dead and both of their families changed forever.
Since then, it’s been three years of radio silence, during which time Otis has become the unlikely protégé of eighteen-year-old Dara—part drill sergeant, part friend—who’s hell-bent on transforming Otis into the Olympic swimmer she can no longer be. But when Otis learns that Meg is coming back to town, he must face some difficult truths about the girl he’s never forgotten and the brother he’s never stopped grieving.
As it becomes achingly clear that he and Meg are not the same people they were, Otis must decide what to hold on to and what to leave behind. Quietly affecting, this compulsively readable debut novel captures all the confusion, heartbreak, and fragile hope of three teens struggling to accept profound absences in their lives.
"Readers will find Otis relatable and endearing in his first-person perspective of first love and heartbreak, as well as his unwavering loyalty to his friends. Meg and Dara round out a cast of well-developed characters who have extensive troubles of their own."
My review: Oh, this is a completely lovely book! The characters are so complex and layered, the writing is stunning, and the story is both heartbreaking and hopeful at the same time. It's the story of families and individuals learning to go on after terrible tragedy, but it's never dark or overwhelming.
Otis is the most darling main characters ever, and all the people around him are completely fascinating. His friendship with Dara is one of the most complicated and beautiful and frustrating friendships I've read anywhere--not just in YA, not just in contemporary YA, not just in m/f friendships. ANYWHERE. It's that good. I am so jealous of how well the author captures those difficult, fraught, often painful, often rewarding relationships damaged, hurting people have with each other.
I will read anything Paula Garner writes in the future. Then I will cry, and read it again, and curse her name to the skies, and cry some more.