“I float in the Pacific Ocean.
As I straddle my longboard, cool water lapping around me, I watch surfers up and down the coast take on baby waves, three- and four-footers that will carry them a short distance before breaking into froth and foam.
I’m waiting for something better.”
Anise has spent her whole life in Santa Cruz, California, living with her father (and at times her gypsy-like mother who can’t stay in one place or make much of a commitment to anything). She enjoys a great life as a surfer with a close group of friends, and can’t imagine life without the surf, her board, and her best friends. Anise is, in other words, a teenager who is happy where she is but unnerved about the possibility of change.
I love this first quote above, which is the opening of the book. It says so much about her drive… and yet is contrary to what she thinks about herself. She is someone who never wants to leave Santa Cruz. She never wants to leave her friends. She never wants to leave the ocean. Anise isn’t even sure she wants to go to college. At her age, I think these are super relatable feelings. She is not ready to move on. She has stalled in her life.
We come into Anise’s life when she is 17. Several of her friends have graduated from high school and are preparing for college or the military; she and a couple of friends are rising seniors. They have titled this “Last Summer” and aim to make it as epic as possible, spending days upon days together, surfing, playing in the sun, bonding by bonfires, and going to their favorite end of summer festival.
Almost immediately, Anise is yanked out of her summer bliss when her Aunt Jackie, a widowed mom with three young children, is struck in a car crash and needs not only multiple operations, but the love and support of Anise and her father Cole to help their day-to-day life continue and make sure the kids are looked after. Cole packs them onto a plane and they travel to Nebraska, thousands of miles from an ocean. He knows how devastating it is to Anise, but also knows that she understands that family comes first.
Anise’s story is interesting because she is confronted with her feelings about her wayward mother, especially as she is in her mom’s childhood home in Nebraska, and also because her new temporary home is challenging her very feelings about what she knows about herself, what she feels for her friends and love interest, and what it means to be family.
This was a great contemporary read which I enjoyed in just a couple of evening reading sessions. Having been to both California and Nebraska, I felt Anise’s pain in leaving the ocean, but was happy to see her journey unfold in unexpected ways. Some portions of the story were predictable, but it didn’t detract from this sunny summer tale. I think it is a great beach read. It is summer, you can feel the warmth in each page. A lovable book.
Girl Out of Water is scheduled for release on May 2, 2017 by Sourcebooks Fire.
Note: Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks for the opportunity to read this highly anticipated release in exchange for an honest review.