Desert Isle Keeper
The Unsinkable Greta James
Whew, this one hurt – but in a good way. If you’ve ever experienced the death of a parent and then had to learn how to get on with a parent you weren’t particular close to, The Unsinkable Greta James is a touching experience that will strike a chord with you. If you haven’t, it’ll still give you a warm and trenchant peek into the life of a woman struggling with deep loss and fording her way to emotional renewal. It’s also YA novelist Jennifer E. Smith’s first adult novel, and manages a nice, mature tone.
Fiery rebel musician Greta James is hiding out in a remote woodland cabin after a very public meltdown at a large concert. That moment, captured by cameras in the crowd followed by bad reviews for her latest song, put a stopper on her meteoric rise. The sight that precipitated the meltdown was a fan bearing a sign reading “Goodbye Greta’s Mom.” The death of her beloved mother, her closest supporter, from a ruptured brain aneurism had wounded Greta deeply, and the sign pushed her over the edge in a grief-induced haze. She had been touring and unable to say goodbye to her mother while she was still alive. Now Greta finds herself unable to play the guitar, which naturally brings her career to a halt.
But then Greta’s brother Asher urges her to get out of the house. She finds herself taking a planned Alaskan cruise with her father, the salty professor Conrad, who loves his daughter but cannot support the career and avocation she in turn adores. The cruise had been intended as a fortieth anniversary vacation for Conrad and Greta’s mom, so Greta and Asher think it’s best he doesn’t go alone. As fathe and daughter travel the ocean, they bond, mourn their loss of wife and mother, and try to figure out their next steps. For Greta, that step could include a shipboard romance with a man named Ben, but he comes with some major strings attached.
A warning for those who come for the book’s romantic content – The Unsinkable Greta James’ main romance has a happy-for-now, ambiguous ending. This is much more a lovely book about healing and growing beyond your pain and trauma.
I liked Greta as a heroine, and,I loved watching her come to articulate her pain and then regain herself piece by piece. I liked honest, down to earth Conrad, who comes to understand his daughter in time. Ben and his Jack London fetish is the naturally stiffer and stodgier counterpart to Greta and feels a bit more pat as a character, but not to the point of being offensive.
The heavy, stormy winter imagery Smith gives us shifts, in the end, to peace, a very fitting conclusion. The word pictures are perfect, and she neatly captures what life is like on a cruise ship.
My mother died ten years ago this year, and I had to build a relationship with my father in the wake of that loss. In a small way, I’ve stood in Greta’s shoes, and everything she goes through feels painfully authentic. The Unsinkable Greta James is fun, touching, sad, and warm. Beautiful all over.
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Lisa Fernandes is a writer, reviewer and recapper who lives somewhere on the East Coast. Formerly employed by Firefox.org and Next Projection, she also currently contributes to Women Write About Comics. Read her blog at http://thatbouviergirl.blogspot.com/, follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/thatbouviergirl or contribute to her Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/MissyvsEvilDead or her Ko-Fi at ko-fi.com/missmelbouvier
|Review Date:||March 3, 2022|
I really loved this book!! It was very much closed door and I rated it “clean” so I’m surprised to see the warm rating. Trying to think what could have made it warm?
Yep, that should be kisses! I’ll poke Caz vis this.