The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

The Sea of Tranquility

From goodreads: I live in a world without magic or miracles. A place where there are no clairvoyants or shapeshifters, no angels or superhuman boys to save you. A place where people die and music disintegrates and things suck. I am pressed so hard against the earth by the weight of reality that some days I wonder how I am still able to lift my feet to walk.

Full of rage and without a purpose, former pianist Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone learning about her past and to make the boy who took everything
from her pay.

All 17 year-old Josh Bennett wants is to build furniture and be left alone and everyone allows it, because it’s easier to pretend he doesn’t exist. When your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space.

Everyone except Nastya, a hot mess of a girl who starts showing up and won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. The more he gets to know her, the more of a mystery she becomes. As their relationship intensifies and the unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he may ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding or if he even wants to.

This book had been in my TBR pile for a while and I knew I would get around to reading it but it happened much sooner than I expected. While it sat there waiting for me to read it, I didn’t feel an immediate connection. Maybe it was the cover? There’s nothing wrong with the cover, in fact I think it’s quite ethereal looking. Maybe it was the synopsis? But the synopsis is quite good and intriguing. Honestly, I don’t have a good answer as to why this wasn’t at the top of my list to read. What I do know is…this book is AMAZINGLY BEAUTIFUL and I should have read it sooner!

Where do I start? What can I say that will be eloquent enough to express what I feel? This is a story about the cruelty of life, self-destruction, isolation, forgiveness, second chances and the beauty of finding love in the midst of all those things.

Katja Millay had me at the prologue…

“I hate my left hand. I hate to look at it. I hate it when it stutters and trembles and reminds me that my identity is gone. But I look at it anyway; because it also reminds me that I’m going to find the boy who took everything from me. I’m going to kill the boy who killed me, and when I kill him, I’m going to do it with my left hand”.

The writing is so brilliant that I found myself highlighting certain quotes throughout the book because I was moved beyond words. Katja takes her time with the story and doesn’t rush it but it’s not dragged out. This story is like drinking a glass of expensive Cabernet Sauvignon. You don’t drink it like a jello-shot but instead sip it slowly and savor the sweet taste of it. When the author says this is a slow-building, character-driven romance…she isn’t kidding and it’s intimate and intense. Each character had purpose, had their own story to share and she made you feel emotionally connected to each of them. There is angst and mystery which kept me up until all hours of the night because I couldn’t put the book down.

Katja wants you to believe that Nastya, the heroine of the story is tough as nails but then she teases you with little hints that she might be more fragile than the reader could possibly imagine. Nastya’s self-loathing is so heart breaking that I couldn’t help but feel melancholy over it. Then Nastya meets Josh. The beautiful and lonely Josh Bennett. The dialogue between Nastya and Josh is so real that at times, I felt I was in his garage listening to their conversations. The relationship progresses slowly and carefully because at any given moment it could shatter and end. And I was part of their journey because I felt every second of their angst, brief moments of happiness and the impending doom lurking right around the corner. Some of the moments are so disturbing and painful that I thought I might need to put the book down but I couldn’t.

This is the kind of story that stays with you because you can’t stop thinking about it. This is the kind of story where you wish you could meet all the wonderful characters because that’s how emotionally invested you are in them. This is the kind of story that you want everyone to read because it’s raw and beautiful.

“His hands are miracles. I can watch them for hours, transforming wood into something it never dreamed of being.”

My final two cents: If I had to sum up my thoughts in one word it would be…PERFECTION. ;)




  1. says

    “This story is like drinking a glass of expensive Cabernet Sauvignon. You don’t drink it like a jello-shot but instead sip it slowly and savor the sweet taste of it.”

    Love this! Great review:)

  2. says

    This book is one of my all time favorite books, it was just so good. Like Megan commented, the writing had to be savored. I am re-reading it now (which I rarely do) and finding things I missed before (or did not understand).

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