Published: May 2nd, 2017 by Sourcebooks Fire | Series: N/A | Length: 320 pages | Genre: YA contemporary | Source: I received an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. | Possible Triggers: car accident, alcohol use
Summary from Goodreads:
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?
What a great book this was. I’m really impressed that this is Silverman’s debut novel because it was amazing.
One of the first things that I noticed and loved was the diversity of the characters. As is mentioned in the blurb, the love interest, Lincoln, only has one arm. He’s also black. I think Silverman did a fantastic job of portraying him as a real, three-dimensional character without ignoring his disability or focusing only on his disability. In addition to Lincoln, out of Anise’s friend group in Santa Cruz, there’s a f/f couple and Anise’s best friend, Tess, is Samoan. With all of these characters, I felt that Silverman did a great job of including this diversity without making the characters feel like caricatures.
I absolutely adored Lincoln. Not only is he charming, but he really cares about Anise and you can see that in the smallest interactions. If he senses that she’s uncomfortable, he’ll take her hand and help reassure her. It was just really cute. He’s also super funny at times. It’s not common that a book makes me literally laugh out loud, but this one had me laughing quite a lot.
Obviously, since Anise goes out to Nebraska to help take care of her cousins, her family ends up playing a pretty big role in this book which is nice. I talk a lot in my reviews about how much I enjoy when families are actually present in YA and Girl Out of Water definitely didn’t disappoint (which is kind of funny since there’s so much emphasis on Anise’s mom who abandons her frequently). I saw a lot of myself in Anise’s interactions with her cousins as their relationships to each other reminded me a lot at times of my relationship to my younger siblings – a kind of balance between friend and parent.
The one reason why I gave 4.5 rather than 5 stars is because of Anise’s mom. At times I really liked how she was incorporated into the story. Anise’s mom is, well, a pretty terrible mom. She’s barely there for any of Anise’s life as she comes and goes as she pleases. On the one hand, I thought it was pretty realistic that Anise would have this deep-rooted fear of ending up hurting people the way her mom has hurt her and that she would be so affected by the relationship, or lack thereof, she has with her mom. But at other times it kind of seemed like it was overkill. I’m not really sure if it’s even fair for me to say because, like I said, I can totally understand how and why this would affect Anise so much, but it still seemed repetitive and like it was just too much and I would’ve liked it to be dialed down just the tiniest bit. Regardless, this is a small flaw in an otherwise fantastic novel.
Girl Out of Water is a very impressive debut and if you’re looking for a good contemporary read, I very highly recommend checking this out. I’m really looking forward to seeing what Laura Silverman writes next because if her debut is this good, I can only imagine how great her books will get.