Title: The Last True Poets Of The Sea
Author: Julia Drake
Pub. Date: October 1st 2019
Genre: YA LGBTQIA+ Contemporary
Pages: 400 Pages
This character driven story set in atmospheric Maine with its lyrical writing truly enveloped me every time I jumped into its pages. A story about familial bonds, depression, anxiety, self harm, and friendships. A family going through some very tough times & navigating as best they could in an effort to hopefully recover. We meet Violet who finds herself experimenting with drugs, alcohol and risky sexual behavior as a coping mechanism. Violets brother has just survived a suicide attempt & has been sent away to get help. Violet’s parents decide to send her to Maine with her uncle in an effort to get her back on track. Violet’s approach to a summer in Lyric is to do the opposite of what got her sent away. She decides to fade into the background, stepping away from center stage in an effort to become invisible. Giving up her clothes, hair, and makeup Violet claims a new identity in Lyric. While there, she is made to work at a nearby aquarium that is having a hard time keeping its doors open due to lack of funding. She was given the position because her great great great grandparents who were shipwrecked in Lyric are said to have discovered the island & therefore were the first to lay down roots.
We follow Violet as she makes friends with Orion, an animal lover who loves working at the aquarium. Orion then introduces Liv to his tribe of friends and from there bonds are formed. We also get a bit of a love triangle seeing as there’s history between Liv & Orion before Violet steps into the mix. This love triangle is the only reason for which I docked it 1 star, I just wasn’t a fan of how Violet went about her relationship with Liv & Orion. I understood Violet could be reckless at times but it really came across as her being self centered. Which again is something Violet is aware of & tries to work on but still I just couldn’t get behind it. Maybe it’s because I LOVED Orion & still think he was dealt a pretty crummy hand. Apart from this love triangle I did appreciate an enjoy each of these characters for different reasons. Liv is a historian in the making & is researching Violets great great great grandparents/shipwreck. She has a ton of questions as to what really happened and this is how she comes to connect with Violet. Orion is easily my favorite because he’s just a chill laid back guy who loves this struggling aquarium and all of the animals that live in it. There are two other side characters, one of which is a tarot card reader in the making who I enjoyed but don’t think he got much page time. Last but not least is Violets Uncle who also has a complicated relationship of his own with his sister (violets mom) and can relate best. He also happens to bake & work on puzzles on his down time as a method of coping with his own anxiety. We all need an uncle like this in our lives 🖤
At its root, this book is about the bonds we have with our family & those we make along the way. How no family is perfect & though we may get lost along the way, the journey to finding our way back makes us all the better/stronger. I’m looking forward to reading more books in the future by Julia Drake, especially ones centered around family.
Content Warning: drug/alcohol abuse, talk of suicide attempt, talk of anxiety & panic attacks
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