Rated Reads

The Sea of Tranquility

by Katja Millay

Rated: High

Nastya is broken. Tragedy in her past and an incredible loss have left her without speech and an intense loathing of just about everything. Moving to a new school to start over, she plans to outright reject everything — until she meets Josh. And Josh is broken too, although in a different way. When Nastya lets down her guard, just a little bit, to let Josh in, a ball starts rolling that neither of them can stop.

I listened to the audio version of The Sea of Tranquility, and the performances are amazing — heartbreaking, actually. This is sort of a heartbreaking book, in the sense that these two main characters are so intensely damaged from things that aren’t in their control, and they are trying so hard to protect the tiny fragile piece that’s left over, that all they do is hurt people. Sometimes they hurt people on purpose because don’t feel they are allowed to hope for happiness anymore, and sometimes they are just idiots and make horrible choices. It’s like watching a train wreck. But the WRITING in this book is astonishing — I was gripped from the first chapter and the character development is so tight and deep and they are so multifaceted that as much as this book is plot and substance, it’s also a deep look at what happens to us in the aftermath of horrible events: how one puts the broken pieces back together into something that can still live and deserve peace.

I cannot actually recommend this book to the teens I know because the language is SO coarse — both vulgar and full of swearing. I dealt with it, but personally, I didn’t like that, as realistic as it may be. There is a heavy amount of teen sexual activity, and while I don’t condone that, I will say that I feel that Katja Millay is accurate in portraying how promiscuity and thoughtless sexual activity can really mess with a teen’s head, as well as how much sex itself can change the dynamic in a relationship. I’d just say that the book is just intense enough that only a very mature, older teen could appreciate it.

Rarely have I read a book written for teens that delves into such painful territory with such grace and compassion.

Rated: High for an extreme amount of vulgar/sexual conversation, a mildly graphic teen sex scene, and dozens and dozens of uses of strong and moderate langauge.

— Reviewed by Corinne Edwards

Corinne Edwards is always happiest when a book is in her hand. If her current read needs to be closed for a short time, either in her backpack while she leads her three rambunctious children on adventures, or on her nightstand while she sleeps, that's okay too. Her book thoughts and reviews land at her bookish blog, The Book Nest.

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  • The Sea of Tranquility
  • by Katja Millay
  • Rated: High
  • Genre: Young adult
  • Reviewer: