(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Also by this author: The Devil You Know
Published by Simon and Schuster on August 13th 2019
Genres: Death & Dying, Friendship, General, Social Themes, Travel & Transportation, Young Adult Fiction
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.
I’m not going to lie, I was super worried that when I started this book it was going to be another book that had me in tears because of the death of the main character. I’m happy to say that didn’t happen.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some super emotional spots here, especially in the beginning when you meet Finley, but it didn’t completely gut me.
Start Here is a coming of age story of two young girls trying to figure out who they are and who they can become without the one person who held their friendship together. To say that there is some resentment between Willa and Taylor would be an understatement. Their friendship is complicated and at the start of this journey, the only thing they feel like they have in common is the one person who is no longer there.
I’m going to be honest, I liked these characters but I’m not sure I loved them. I struggled a lot to connect with them throughout, but maybe that is part of their charm – These two very different girls who are struggling to understand what comes next for them, and learning that their life will go on and understanding that they don’t have to lose and forget Finley but they have to start living for themselves was an important message.
I really enjoyed the idea of the sailing trip as the backdrop for the story. It’s interesting to me that this is even a thing that people can do, but Doller does an amazing job of building this story around each of the stops along the way. The trials and tribulations that the girls have to experience helped to build their confidence in who they are and who they are becoming and the growth each of these girls goes through from start to finish was lovely to see.
The things that didn’t work for me… Cam as a character. He was interesting and a big part of the story and then suddenly he wasn’t. I supposed that’s sometimes how life is, but as a reader I wanted more of an explanation on his actions, even if he wasn’t going to be a part of Willa’s life. I also struggled a bit with the relationship with Wyatt. I get it sometimes fate just puts someone in your way that you immediately click with, but I felt like the romances weren’t fleshed out enough to be a part of the story in a resounding way, and I kind of wish they hadn’t been there at all.
Ultimately, at the end of the day, this book wasn’t supposed to be about romance. It is truly about two girls who need to learn to forgive each other for transgressions, grieve for the friend they lost and a future without her, and figure out what is next for them in their lives, and on those points, Doller delivers wonderfully.
If you’re looking for a book about friendship and loss and learning to live for yourself this will be the perfect story for you.
Thank you to the publisher for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.