Published by Sourcebooks Fire on May 2nd 2017
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
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Girl Out of Water was the perfect summery contemporary! Our main character, Anise, feels betrayed when her summer suddenly takes a turn: instead of surfing the days away with her group of friends in her beloved hometown of Santa Cruz, CA, she is forced to move to landlocked Nebraska for two months to help take care of her cousins while her aunt recovers from a major car accident. I’ve been following Laura Silverman on Twitter for quite a while now, and I’m so happy to see her debut getting so much love! It definitely deserves it.
Although I have virtually nothing in common with Anise, I loved reading from her perspective because it’s one I haven’t seen often in YA, especially in YA contemporary. First off, she’s a kickass athlete, who loves nothing more than surfing and comes to love skateboarding over the course of the book. She’s also incredibly flawed and, because of this, realistic. I definitely could see that she was being selfish at times over the course of the novel, but then I realized that I would be, too, if I were in her situation. Anise’s character growth over the course of Girl Out of Water was remarkable: she definitely evolved into a more caring, mature, and intelligent person as her summer progressed. I loved seeing how she grew to care for her cousins– it was really sweet and heartwarming. Another thing I loved about Anise: she’s always eating. I know that might sound weird, but again, I just never read about girl protagonists who eat nonstop in YA. And, like, as a killer athlete, her appetite is totally normal. This is definitely one of those books that will make you hungry– I need to try Anise’s signature cereal mixture (Captain Crunch, Lucky Charms, and Reese’s Puffs) ASAP.
I also adored the fantastically diverse, three-dimensional cast of side characters. Their diverse backgrounds were woven in so nonchalantly, yet their portrayals were sensitively done. Anise’s friends, especially her best friend, Tess, were all such good friends to her, and I enjoyed reading about the way distance affected their friendships in a very real way. Even though we as readers got to spend very little time with Anise’s crew of friends in Santa Cruz, Silverman managed to make them jump off the page in an extremely short amount of time. And, of course, like I mentioned before, I loved Anise’s cousins. All the familial relationships were done incredibly well– I adored Anise’s relationship with her dad and also with her aunt, and even Anise’s turbulent relationship with her estranged mother was captured well.
Then we have Anise’s love interest, Lincoln. What a genuinely great human. I enjoyed learning about him. I thought the way he and Anise’s relationship developed was so sweet! It felt so natural. The two of them shared so many things in common, and you could tell through their actions that they genuinely cared for one another. Also, yes to more interracial relationships in YA! Yes to love interests with disabilities! Yes to all kinds of love interests and all kinds of relationships!
The pacing of Girl Out of Water was another element of the story that was masterfully done. Every scene served a purpose, and it seemed like Silverman wrote them deliberately. This is definitely more of a quiet YA contemporary– nothing too crazy happens, and its more about characters than plot, I think. Even so, I really enjoyed this book! Girl Out of Water is a strong debut, and a great book to add to your summer reading list.
Have you read Girl Out of Water? If so, what did you think? If not, do you plan to pick it up anytime soon?