The Unsinkable Greta James by Jennifer E. Smith

It’s going to make my top ten list of the year for sure!

Goodreads Synopsis:

Greta James’s meteoric rise to indie stardom was hard-won. Before she graced magazine covers and sold out venues, she spent her girlhood strumming her guitar in the family garage. Her first fan was her mother, Helen, whose face shone bright in the dusty downtown bars where she got her start–but not everyone encouraged Greta to follow her dreams. While many daydream about a crowd chanting their name, her father, Conrad, saw only a precarious life ahead for his daughter.

Greta has spent her life trying to prove him wrong, but three months after Helen’s sudden death, and weeks before the launch of her high-stakes sophomore album, Greta has an onstage meltdown that goes viral. Attempting to outrun the humiliation and heartbreak, she reluctantly agrees to accompany her father on a week-long Alaskan cruise, the very one that her parents had booked to celebrate their fortieth anniversary.

This could be the James family’s last chance to heal old wounds and will prove to be a voyage of discovery for them, as well as for Ben Wilder, a historian also struggling with a major upheaval in his life. Ben is on board to lecture about Jack London’s The Call of the Wild, the adventure story Greta’s mother adored, and he captures Greta’s attention after her streak of dating hanger-ons. As Greta works to build up her confidence and heal, and Ben confronts his uncertain future, they must rely on one another to make sense of life’s difficult choices. In the end, Greta must make the most challenging decision of all: to listen to the song within her or make peace with those who love her.

My review:

I read a lot of books every year, so usually I hate to commit myself early in the year to saying that I think I’ve found a book that will make it into my top ten for the year. Not this time.

Greta James and her father strike a chord that many people will resonnate with. Family relationships are hard sometimes, especially when you have a parent that you love, but don’t particularly like that much. Greta and her feelings upon the loss of her mother, and the guilt that she feels surrounding it, are heartbreaking and raw. Realizing that those feelings may cost her one of the things she loves most, her music, makes her situation even harder to contemplate.

Adding on to the intricacies of trying to find a common ground with her father, is the man she meets on the boat/ship who shouldn’t work as a love interest for her on paper. In reality, she still wants to see where it will go, if anywhere.

There are so many precarious moments in all of her attempts with both floundering relationships, that I couldn’t help but feel worried, annoyed, and irritated on her behalf, as well as on the behalf of the men she goes on this journey with.

I felt the gamut of emotions, I felt pride for her, I cried with her, I was upset with her, and I laughed with her. I couldn’t have asked for more.

Thank you to Random House and Ballantine Books for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

You can check out my review on the 3 Book Girls podcast here:

Epsiode 285

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