Title: The Last True Poets of the Sea
Author: Julia Drake
Rating: ★★★★½
Summary: The Larkin family isn’t just lucky—they persevere. At least that’s what Violet and her younger brother, Sam, were always told. When the Lyric sank off the coast of Maine, their great-great-great-grandmother didn’t drown like the rest of the passengers. No, Fidelia swam to shore, fell in love, and founded Lyric, Maine, the town Violet and Sam returned to every summer. But wrecks seem to run in the family. Tall, funny, musical Violet can’t stop partying with the wrong people. And, one beautiful summer day, brilliant, sensitive Sam attempts to take his own life. Shipped back to Lyric while Sam is in treatment, Violet is haunted by the lost shipwreck she and Sam dreamed of discovering when they were children. Desperate to make amends, Violet swears to locate the Lyric and finds a fellow wreck hunter in Liv Stone, an amateur local historian whose sparkling intelligence and guarded gray eyes make Violet ache in an exhilarating new way. Whether or not they find the Lyric, the journey Violet takes—and the bridges she builds along the way—may be the start of something like survival.


Note: an ARC of this title was acquired via the publisher.

Sometimes, when I finish a book, I don’t know how to really process what I’ve just read. I know the book was good, and that I liked it, but I can’t put into words all of the emotions it made me feel. And to write a coherent book review that I can then post on my blog? Absolutely not. So I literally close the cover and stick the book somewhere where I can see it and be reminded of it, but, instead of sitting down with my thoughts, they whir inside like an internal keyboard smash.

The Last True Poets of the Sea was one of those books.

It’s the kind of uncomfortably realistic young adult book I gravitated toward as a teen; the one where the plot actually feels like it could happen, where the main conflict is more than just a question of whether the two protagonists will get together, where the characters are full of hopes and dreams and flaws and make mistakes.

We meet main character Violet as she’s on the plane to Maine, sent to live with her uncle after her brother attempts suicide. She is Going Through Some Shit, and the rawness Julia Drake imbues in Violet is one of the reasons I enjoyed this novel so much. We’re allowed to sit in the messy spaces with her as she grieves and makes friends and falls in love. While the book could be considered a romance, it’s so much more than that. (Even though Drake completely normalizes Violet’s bisexuality and I need more of this please and thanks.)

The Last True Poets of the Sea is a novel about family and friendship and grief and growing up and making hard choices but always, always choosing to swim up. If you’re in the right headspace, I think you should read it.

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