Tuesday, August 13, 2019

BOOK REVIEW | Start Here by Trish Doller

Title: Start Here
Author: Trish Doller
Series? No, Start Here is a standalone.
Pages: 352
Publisher: Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster)
Publication Date: August 13, 2019
Source: I recieved an ARC via Simon and Schuster in exchange for an honest. Many thanks to the publisher! All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Two teens go on a life-changing sailing trip as they deal with the grief of losing their best friend in this heartwrenching, hopeful novel from the author of Something Like Normal and In a Perfect World.

Willa and Taylor were supposed to spend the summer after high school sailing from Ohio to Key West with their best friend, Finley. But Finley died before graduation, leaving them with a twenty-five-foot sailboat, a list of clues leading them to destinations along the way, and a friendship that’s hanging by a thread.

Now, Willa and Taylor have two months and two thousand miles to discover how life works without Finley—and to decide if their own friendship is worth saving.

From acclaimed author Trish Doller comes a poignant tale of forgiveness, grief, and the brilliant discoveries we make within ourselves when we least expect it.

Start Here is a young adult coming of age novel, following two estranged friends, Willa and Taylor. The two girls, who have just graduated from their senior year of high school, are still mourning the death of their best friend, Finley. The two girls, whose friendship was shaky at best, is put to the test when they decide to complete one of Finley's final wishes - for the two to sail from Ohio to Key West. 

While I might be an avid romance reader, here's a little secret - I love contemporary novels that focus on friendships rather than romance. Willa and Taylor's friendship is tenuous at best, and nonexistent at worst. I loved how Doller wrote Willa and Taylor's friendship. Friends lash out at each other, sometimes lose respect for each other, and through it all, friends still have each other's backs. Willa and Taylor's friendship isn't perfect, and I loved that friendship was represented in all of its messy glory. 

Another aspect of Start Here that drew me in was the focus on sailing! Personally, I've never sailed, but I was so intrigued reading about it! I'm not too sure I could follow an analytical conversation about sailing, it was great to read about it, and how Willa and Taylor navigated sailing. While Willa is pretty confident in her sailing abilities, Taylor is not. I loved seeing the two women becoming empowered as they faced and conquered new challenges. 

If you are looking for a coming of age novel that wonderfully tackles grief and friendship in all of its complexities while focusing on two characters who bounce off the page, Start Here is the novel for you. There is a smattering of romances as well, but serve to show how Willa and Taylor begin to accept themselves, their sexuality, and realize they deserve the utmost respect. This was such a refreshing take; Doller has such direction and focus in her narrative, and I was so drawn in while reading.  

With that, I give Start Here 4 out of 5 Flowers!

P.S. Check out my Twitter, where I made a mood board for Start Here!

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