The Unsinkable Greta James
The Unsinkable Greta James follows 36-year-old Greta James, an indie rockstar and guitarist, who’s trying to pick up the pieces of her life after her mother’s sudden death. Still reeling from her loss, as well as her viral onstage meltdown that’s stalled her career, spending time with her dad on an Alaskan cruise ship is the last thing she wants to do. Attempting to outrun the humiliation and heartbreak, she reluctantly agrees.
Over the week, Greta forms a quick bond with Ben Wilde, a historian obsessed with Jack London. Recently separated from his wife, their connection is borne of mutual searching for what they want from their lives now that a part of what they held dear is lost. Through their instant connection, we see how some people pop into your life when you need them most. Their purpose is to shake things up and force you to revaluate. They’re propellants that jump-start you forward. And Ben is that person for Greta: in only a few days, she opens up and rediscovers what she values most.
Though this book does have lighter, amusing moments, it’s predominantly about mourning, forgiveness, and self-exploration. Greta and her father, both grieving and lost as to how they move forward, are the heart of the story. Their relationship is contentious, it always has been, and the tension between them is palpable. The old sore wound that remains open between them has a deep history. And it’s not easy to mend. Jennifer E. Smith excellently depicts the complexity, the messiness, of their father-daughter relationship, as well as their unspoken love.
I read this book in two sittings. Given that I’ve been in a slump for a month, it shows how easy this book was to devour. Beautiful Alaskan scenery, music, and set out at sea, I couldn’t have asked for a better book to pull me out of a reading slump. The Unsinkable Greta James is a beautiful, heartful novel about grief, growing up and navigating your dreams when reality gets tough.
I will *immediately* be digging for a copy of The Call of the Wild by Jack London, thank you, Ben.
Thank you, Quercus Books for sending me an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review!
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