Girl Out of Water by Laura Silverman
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on May 2, 2017
Source: My local library
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
Way back when I started delving deep into book twitter (August probably?) I came across Laura Silverman’s profile and followed. I think that was right around the time she was harassed on Twitter. (More info can be found in this article.) I’m not going to dive into the specifics of that because it doesn’t impact the reading experience but needless to say that’s how I found out about the book. I added it to my to-read shelf, reported some reviews, and kinda just had it in the back of my mind. It sounded interesting enough and I was more than willing to give it a shot. Fast forward to last month when the book finally came out and I started seeing it all over the internet, which reminded me about the book existence. So I reread the synopsis and figured I’d give it a shot.
And I am so glad I did! This was such a pleasant reading experience and a great late spring early summer read. It’s definitely a quieter contemporary in my opinion; it doesn’t have big, explosive plot, which honestly part of the reason I liked it so much. Yes, there are big life things happening to the characters- Anise’s aunt is in a serious car wreck which is what causes them to go to Nebraska for the summer, which is Anise’s first time leaving home for an extended period of time. The book is very much about the day-to-day activities of that summer.
What really kept me reading was Anise. She was such an interesting character. Now I’ll admit, when I first started the book I found her a bit annoying. She was kind of a brat about everything. Understandably in some cases- what teenager wouldn’t be a bit bratty about having to go somewhere away from their friends for the whole summer? But even beforehand, when she’s still in Santa Cruz, I felt like she took a lot for granted in her life, especially her friends. Even though she alluded to the fact it was their last summer together, I don’t think it had really sunk in yet.
Her growth over the course of the novel is what really kept me reading. She’s the one primarily taking care of her cousins in the summer, and even though they had a relationship prior to starting the book, she doesn’t really know what to do with them. So she takes them to the park, where she meets Lincoln. I loved Lincoln. He is so funny and definitely pushed Anise out of her comfort zone, which is something she desperately needed. The romance between them felt very natural to me, and I really enjoyed their dynamic, especially when Lincoln calls her out for being a brat.
My favorite part of this book was definitely how it tackled friendship. Anise essentially stopped talking to her friends over the course of the summer because it hurt her too much to be away from them. Then when she comes back, she’s confused as to why all her friends are cool to her. This part felt particularly relevant to me because I am terrible at keeping in touch and have been that jerk who dropped off the face of the earth. While I felt like the ending left some things unresolved and some things tied up too nicely, I thought the ending fit the book. I think it’s ok for the book not to resolve everything because life is unresolved conflict.
Overall, I would absolutely recommend this book to fans of contemporary young adult. It reminded me so much of the Sarah Dessen books I have read in how complex the characters were and how true-to-life the plot was. The diversity in this book was also amazing and added to the true-to-life feel. I would also recommend this if you’re looking for books primarily set in the Midwest, since I feel like that setting is a little rare in contemporary YA. I will definitely be checking out future novels by Laura Silverman because I absolutely loved this one.
Have you read this book? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!