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The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

The Sea of Tranquility (edition 2012)

by Katja Millay

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4296724,588 (4.36)5
Title:The Sea of Tranquility
Authors:Katja Millay
Info:Atria Books (2012), Edition: Original, Kindle Edition, 448 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

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Originally posted at The Bookaholic Cat

Nastya Kashnikov used to be a happy, fun and loving girl until an incident two years ago that changed her life. She was of the path to recovering until the day she remembered with vivid detail what happened to her on that day. Afraid of what could come out of her mouth she self-imposed a vow of silence.
Nastya was known as a piano prodigy and now she’s just notorious for being gloomy, dark, dress with too short, too tight and too dark clothes and being mute.
Needing to be far from the people that know her story she decides to move with her aunt to a city two hours away from her parents’ house.
The new school is not as bad as she was expecting thanks to the school’s playboy Drew Leighton. Drew is funny and charming and doesn’t care how Nastya dresses or behaves; her not talking humors him and makes him want to know her even more. Drew knows about broody people, his best friend Josh Bennett is the epitome of it.
In his short life Josh has experienced loss like nobody else, he lost his mother and sister when he was just a child, couple of years later he lost his father, now at seventeen, his battling-cancer grandfather is the only person he has left. Being surrounded by death has made of him a recluse with carpentry as his only outlet.
Nastya has trouble sleeping and her nights are plagued by nightmares, her way to deal with it is to run until she too exhausted to think. One of these runs takes her to an unknown neighborhood where she finds a house that brings some memories she can place, the house belongs to Josh; he is home and working on his garage.
After that night most of her runs take her to Josh’s house where she finds the peace she so much seeks and where she feels she belongs.
On the beginning Josh doesn’t know what to think of the mute girl that shows every night at his garage, but after some nights shared in silent company she becomes part of his nights and his life.

Nastya is a shell of what she used to be; now she’s just broken, with no dreams and no hope of a better future. She is not only hurting herself but those who love her too. On the beginning we know something bad happened to her but not exactly what, Mrs. Millay gives us crumbs along the way to entice us and keep us glued to the pages. When we finally learn what happened to Nastya every doubt and reservation about her is left behind.

Josh doesn’t like to get close to people, he has lost everybody he has loved and the last thing he wants is to suffer another loss. Life experiences have not only made him mature beyond his years but also have left him broken and with no expectations in life.

Josh and Nastya relationship is develops slowly, first they are companions, then friends and finally when their walls begin to crumble they become more.

Josh and Nastya lives are dark and sad but luckily for them they have Drew in their lives. Drew pretends to be the uncaring-womanizer jock, but that’s the façade he uses to hide the real caring person he is. Drew brings light and humor to balance a story that without him would have been too dark.

Katja Millay’s writing is flawless, fluid and smart; Her use of symbolisms is masterfully done. The story unravels slowly and is brilliantly executed. The Sea of Tranquility is so well written that is difficult to believe that it is Mrs. Millay’s first book.

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay is an emotional, heartbreaking story about second chances and the power of love. One I recommend you all to read.
I’m looking forward to read more books by Mrs. Millay. ( )
  BookaholicCat | Mar 4, 2015 |
As ever, before reading a book, I read the reviews to see if it's worth wasting my time reading. If a book as, like,a gazillion 1 star reviews, then I would probably still read it, since I might like it anyway.

And that's what happened with [b:The Sea of Tranquility|16151178|The Sea of Tranquility|Katja Millay|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1352987353s/16151178.jpg|21547521]. There are QUITE a few reviews that make it sound worse than it actually is, but to be completely honest, I really quite enjoyed the book, for a number of reasons.

1) Nastya (our main character) doesn't talk. That is something you just don't get much these days. We have plenty of characters out there with dark, horrid pasts that don't like talking about them, but I've never actually read about someone who complete STOPPED talking. It's brilliant and new.

2) It's really rather easy to empathise with the characters. It's your typical high school based cliché storyline, but at the same time it isn't . Throw in the fact that the chick doesn't talk, and it changes your entire perspective.

3) It's not your typical scholastic love story.

And 4) The switches in point of views. Although this can get tedious at times, especially if you don't pay attention to who's point of view you're reading from, it's refreshing. You get two dive into two different minds.

So let's start with the basics

After something dark and awful happens to Nastya Kashnikov, she moves in with her aunt (pretty cliché) and decides that no one must find out about her past (even more cliché). But it's not that difficult, considering the girl doesn't talk. Not that she can't talk, it's that she won't talk. Which yeah, might be annoying, but to be honest, how many books out there actually broach this subject?

Yeah. Not many. So it's refreshing.

One of the things I had a problem understanding (until pretty much the end) is the fact that she dresses like a whore.

No, really. She does. And I quote, " I don't dress this way because I like it so much or because I want people to stare at me in general. But people are going to stare at me for the wrong reasons anyway, and if they're going to stare at me for the wrong reasons, then at least I should get to pick them. Plus, a little unwelcome staring is a small price to pay for scaring everyone off. "

Um. Okay. Sure, cos dressing like a slut and getting stared at is better than dressing like a NORMAL person and getting stared at?

I'd rather my tits and ass were safely tucked away if people are going to stare at me for the 'wrong reasons'. Thank you very much.

There have been many a complaint about the fact that this story is slow and unnecessary long. Baring in mind she doesn't talk, it's bound to go slow. It's not like it would move as fast as if, say, it was filled with conversation BECAUSE SHE DOESN'T TALK. Don't get me wrong, it does get tedious at times, mostly because yeah, it gets slow at some points, but there is only so much the author can say in the space of time it gets us to know Josh (the love interest and the second point of view).

Anyway, so we trudge through this story, slowly getting to know both characters and Josh's 'hunky' but still kinda weird best friend Drew - the jock, of course - and it gets to the point where I'm itching to know what happened in the past. So we know the Nastya's left hand doesn't quite work, and she mentioned it had been put back together, basically, with screws and plates and she doesn't quite have the right functionality, considering every time she tries to use it properly, it loses its grip and we know that something bad must've happened purely because she mentions how awful it was and how she has scars everywhere, but by the middle of the book I WANT TO KNOW WHAT IT IS.

So I guess that's tedious, because the build up is slow, but once it happens, it's pretty fucking good.

Of course people have complained that it wasn't as good (or as awful) as they imagined. If you ask me, however, it was pretty gruesome.

She was the Brighton Piano Girl (like, this musical sensation she had been since she was little) walking off to record a new piece of material, and some bloke comes out of nowhere and beats the shit out of her. Literally:

" He says it's my fault. He calls me a Russian whore ... there's blood and dirt in my mouth ... he just leaves me on the ground and starts kicking me instead ... on the ground, is one of my pearl buttons... I see his boots next to my hand ..." I'd elaborate further, but then there would be no point in reading the book.

So slowly, the reader starts to understand WHY she dresses like a whore and WHY her name is Russian, but we don't know until then that it's a fake name. It's kind of annoying, cos I would've liked her to tell me before that it wasn't her real name.

At the beginning, she mentions Emilia: " I think of pearl buttons and white eyelet skirts and wonder what Emilia would be wearing if she were alive today. " And I was a bit, like, "The fuck you on about?" but she doesn't mention it again, so I just assumed it was a dead friend.

But yeah, anyway. So that's BRUTAL. I mean, getting kicked and beaten to scraps is AWFUL. I don't understand why people say it's not as good as they expected. WHAT?! What did you want to happen?!

Moving on. What I absolute adore about Nastya/Emilia/Sunshing (Josh's nickname for her) is that the girl is S.A.S.S.Y . Here are a couple of examples:

1) " I still have four of the seven classes left on the schedule that shit gave birth to. " - She's referring to the fact that he first day at school is going okay. But seriously, I loved that. She's a no-nonsense kind of girl with a personality that eerily resembles mine.

2) " I am a slutty horror show. " She knows, but doesn't give a shit.

3) " Call me Sunshine again, and I'll murder you, cocksucker. "

That's the only ones I can think of off the top of my head. Oh dear.


I hate Josh Bennett, her boyfriend-not-boyfriend. He's a TOOL. So fair enough, his life is pretty shit cos his mum and sister died, then his father and then his grandma and grandpa swiftly followed so he's all alone in the world and boo-fucking-hoo, but he's a total prick. He grates me the wrong way. He treats Nastya like an idiot because she doesn't talk.

But when she DOES, he basically insults her for keeping it a secret.

Actually, that's another thing I didn't like about the novel. How Nastya/Emilia/Sunshine/Whatever TALKS to Josh and Drew, but not to her family, which is pretty fucked up to me. I'd rather she a) not talk at all to ANYONE or b) maybe start talking near the end of the book. It would have a bigger impact on the reader, especially since Josh had no reaction whatsoever -- no gasp, no turning suddenly, no shocked blinking:

" You would think I would spin around at this moment in some sort of shocked frenzy, but it's almost like I've been expecting her to talk to me since the day we met and I've just been wondering what she was going to say. " Presumptuous prick.

In general, I really liked the book. I liked the ending, how she came face to face with the man that practically killed her, in such a strange environment: an art gallery. And the picture he painted is her undoing:

" I don't know anything about art so I can't tell you that it's watercolour or acrylic or that it's on canvas or anything art related at all. I can tell you that it's a painting of a hand, my hand, turned up and opened to the word and that it reaches into my body and rips out everything that's left. Because in the palm, right in the centre, is the pearl button I never reached. "

Oh. My. God. *Gasp* WHAT?

I suppose that's the part that pretty much crushed my heart into a million pieces, and it's definitely my favourite part.

So all in all, I give this book 4 stars. I'd give more, but the fact that it didn't quite turn out the way I would have liked it to, and that I LOATHE the male characters, and the whole suddenly talking thing didn't really do it for me kinda stops me from giving more than four. But it's DEFINITELY a book I'd read again. Whoop-de-do-dah. ( )
  Aly_Locatelli | Jan 26, 2015 |
I so enjoyed the story of Josh and Nastya. I was thoroughly engaged, never bored or distracted. I found the writing to be completely believable (and there was only one typo that I noticed). There was almost an eerie, haunting sense to the story. I highly recommend it. ( )
  Dawn94 | Dec 20, 2014 |
This story about two teens who are trying to cope after tragedy is dark, raw, intense and not especially uplifting. It also has a lot of mature content for a teen novel. But I really loved it and was pulled into the story from the very beginning. I listened to the audiobook, which is a format I don't use very often as I sometimes have trouble paying attention. I didn't have any trouble paying attention to this story as it grabbed me and didn't let go until the last word, 13 hours later.

At the beginning of The Sea of Tranquility, Nastya, a 17 year old girl with a mysterious secret, starts attending a new school. It is apparent early on that she has suffered a severe tragedy, and that she is most definitely not okay. She doesn't speak to anyone, she dresses like a whore, she has issues with her left hand, and as the novel continues, the reader (or listener, in my case) pieces together bit by bit what has happened to leave her in such a state. Josh Bennett has also suffered his share of tragedy, as nearly everyone he has ever loved has been taken from him.

At this point, the story sounds like it will be predictable teen fare: two teens with tragic pasts find solace in each other's arms and all of their problems suddenly disappear. And while there are elements of this in The Sea of Tranquility, I felt like the novel was so much deeper. I was especially pleased with the ending. I was worried about where the story was going, and that I wouldn't like it. I thought either everything would be wrapped up in a perfect little bow, or everyone would be left wallowing in their misery. Somehow, Katja Millay managed to find a middle ground, providing an ending that was both satisfactory and realistic. ( )
  em0451 | Sep 11, 2014 |
Nastya has moved in with her aunt who lives two hours away from her hometown to try and start over. But will she have the courage to face her deepest fears? Josh has lived in the same town his whole live and everyone knows his story. Will he be be able to connect with anyone ever again? When Nastya and Josh cross paths they find something in each other that brings them close without even saying a word.

I thought this book was pretty amazing. Katja Millay has a winner! At first you just wish you could shake Nastya just to make her talk, but then you get to know her more and you just want to save the little girl she was. Josh is the quit guy who is good with his hands, who wouldn’t be attracted to that, but he is so much more than just an average teenage guy. Both of these characters have had an intense life up to this point and they both still have a long way to go. I thought these two made great friends and they found each other when they needed the other most, and they didn’t even know it. Through there own kind of therapy things start to look up, until someones feelings get hurt. I enjoyed the journey that Katja brought me on, there was so many emotions and the ending. Oh my God the ending. I’ll stop before I tell you what it is because well you have to read the book to find out.

Books aren’t meant for everyone to like and this is definitely a YA book so if you don’t like reading about high schoolers, I still think you might like the story behind it anyways because it is not your typical high school romance drama.

I received this book from the publisher through netgalley for my honest review ( )
  Hbeck | Aug 19, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 67 (next | show all)
Reviewed by Robin
Book provided by NetGalley for review
Review originally posted at Romancing the Book

Where do you start a review on a book that is so powerfully written? A book that helps heal? Not very often do you come across a story that takes your heart and rips it right out of your chest. One that is so deep that you feel the raw emotions of the characters that hold you in their grasp until the very end. A story that takes the harshness of the world, the horror, the imperfections; showing us that if we are strong enough to survive we can find hope and love. It gives us our dreams along with a second chance.

The relationship between Josh and Nastya builds slowing. Both loners both have had much tragedy in their young lives. Josh proves to be a very special seventeen year old boy showing that he survives in spite of all that life has thrown at him. Even though he is quiet he is very protective, caring and respectful of the boundaries that Nastya has set up. Nastya on the other hand just longs for a friendship no questions asked. One where she can keep the secrets from the past hidden.

As this friendship grows into more it is like two old souls sharing a lifetime of tragedy with each other. Once in a while a book comes along that captures you heart and for me this is that book. Even though it is a young adult book it is one that spans and speaks to those of all ages. Having worked in the school system for a number of years I would have loved to have had this book while talking to the many young people that came to me with their problems. If my boys were readers had this book been around I would have made them read it, I still just might do that. I went through some tough times during my younger years also. While reading this book it touched those dark areas for me giving me the chance to bring them out and heal. Wow! Is all I can say…? This is a book that everyone needs to buy and keep on their shelf after reading. Ms. Millay has an emotional story full of cathartic healing elements. A must have for everyone. A keeper for everyone. I only wish I would have come across this earlier.

Favorite Quote: “Dying isn’t so bad after you’ve done it once. And I have. I’m not afraid of death anymore. I’m afraid of everything else.”
added by RtB | editRomancing the Book, Robin (Feb 13, 2013)
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Two and a half years after an unspeakable tragedy left her a shadow of the girl she once was, Nastya Kashnikov moves to a new town determined to keep her dark past hidden and hold everyone at a distance. But her plans only last so long before she finds herself inexplicably drawn to the one person as isolated as herself: Josh Bennett. Josh's story is no secret. Every person he loves has been taken from his life until, at seventeen years old, there is no one left. When your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space. Everyone except Nastya who won't go away until she's insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. But as the undeniable pull between them intensifies, he starts to wonder if he will ever learn the secrets she's been hiding, or if he even wants to.--From back cover.… (more)

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