Fans of Jenny Han and Sarah Dessen will fall in love this contemporary debut about finding yourself-and finding love-in unexpected places.Ocean breeze in her hair and sand between her toes, Anise can’t wait to spend the summer before her senior year surfing and hanging out on the beach with friends. Santa Cruz is more than her home-it’s her heart. But when her aunt, a single mother, is in a serious car accident, Anise must say goodbye to California to help care for her three young cousins.
Landlocked Nebraska is the last place Anise wants to be. Sure, she loves her family, but it’s hard to put her past behind her when she’s living in the childhood house of the mother who abandoned her. And with every Instagram post, her friends back home feel further away.
Then she meets Lincoln, a charismatic, one-armed skater who challenges her to swap her surfboard for a skateboard. Because sometimes the only way to find your footing is to let go.
If you are looking for a fun summer contemporary that will have you racing for the beach and the warm sand, Girl out of Water is probably one of the best reads that will definitely perk up your summer days!
Anise has lived her whole life on a sunny beach in California, where she grew up with her dad and her friends, including Eric, the guy she recently has realized that she has feelings for. She’s spent years surfing, and is really good at it, too – in fact, it’s her favorite thing in the world. She loves waking up to the sound of the waves crashing against the shore and the seagulls circling overhead, and then putting on her wetsuit and running out to greet the day with some morning surfing.
So when she hears that her summer vacation isn’t going to be what she expected – tons of time with her friends, who would be going off to colleges and boot camp, plenty of amazing surf time, and Surf Break – a massive beach party and concert – at the end of the summer, she didn’t know how to react. Her aunt Jackie had been in a bad car accident that left her in the hospital and unable to walk for the summer, meaning someone would need to be at her house and help care for her and Anise’s three cousins. The only problem? They live in Nebraska.
“A few hours ago, I was on the beach with my friends – surfing, talking, kissing Eric, and now I’m here, on a plane, taking me away from all of it.”
Needless to say, Anise feels a bit resentful – after all, she loves her family, but this is her last summer to spend with her friends on the beach, surfing, relaxing, and enjoying herself, and maybe taking things to relationship level with Eric.
As the weeks pass and Anise finds herself almost the sole caretaker of the three cousins- two nine year old twin boys and a twelve year old girl, she finds herself drifting away from her friends back home. There is no beach in Nebraska, so Anise has been going to the park with the kids and spending time at home, avoiding her social media accounts as well, so she doesn’t see her friends having fun without her.
Then she meets Lincoln, and her summer turns itself around.
Lincoln challenges her to learn how to skateboard, which Anise feels like she might be great at, considering that she’s an amazing surfer. However, it seems to be a bit more challenging than she anticipated – but she refuses to give up, since she bet Lincoln that she learn by the end of that week.
As time goes on, Anise keeps learning how to skate, while getting closer to Lincoln. Eventually, she has a hard time keeping herself away from him at all, and develops feelings for him that confuse her, since she thought something was beginning with someone else back home.
“Calling Lincoln not so bad looking is like calling the Pacific Ocean damp.”
The two of them embark on a summer romance that will melt hearts, and Anise finds herself wanting to shy away from her friends back home even more. At the same time, she’s busy taking care of her aunt and her cousins, and wondering if she will be able to convince her dad to let her go home early to make it to Surf Break. But when she does go back home at the end of the summer, what will happen with her and Lincoln? And how will things go with her friends?
I loved the relationship between Anise and Lincoln in this book – and I think it had something to do with the fact that Lincoln was not at all your typical male love interest that you see in so many YA books. Instead, he was snarky, witty, and so much fun. He took Anise places, like on picnics, to help ease her homesickness, and you could tell that he really had feelings for her.
“‘That first day I met you at the park, it was so obvious that you were out of place.’ He shoots me a goofy grin. “A literal fish out of water.’”
I had so much fun while reading this book – I’ve never really been into surfing, which is a big part of the novel and of the main character’s life, but I felt like it was a part of my life while I was reading, too. Anise’s character was so well written that I liked her from the beginning of the story, even during the moments where she was awkward or plain out feeling selfish, because it showed what a real and genuine person she was.
There was a big issue throughout the book about Anise’s mom, who is absent most of the time. Her mom has been known to disappear for almost a year or two at a time, leaving behind both Anise and her dad. She has always had an issue settling down in one place, so instead she takes off on a regular basis, trying not to be tied down. But of course, it is difficult on Anise, since she has had to grow up without a mother. There are some really painful parts in this book where she wishes her mom was around and she isn’t, and it’s kind of heartbreaking.
“If my mom were here, she would know what to do. But she isn’t here. She’s never here when I need her, which is why I’ve learned not to need her.”
Aside from the family issues that Anise has had to deal with her whole life, she is also being torn away from all of her friends and being forced to spend her summer before her senior year not doing her favorite thing in the world – surfing. But after some time, and with the help of Lincoln, Anise makes the best of her situation, and she actually starts to enjoy being in Nebraska a bit.
There’s a little bit of a love triangle going on with Anise, who has feelings for Eric, and then she meets Lincoln and develops feelings for him, too – but it isn’t a love triangle that takes away from the main plot of the book, and is quite tastefully done, in my opinion. I think because the characters in the book are so well rounded, it kind of adds a little bit to Anise’s personality.
Guest review contributed by Here’s to Happy Endings. Kelly focuses on young adult book reviews, with author interviews, giveaways, and memes such as Waiting on Wednesdays, as well as participating in blog tours. She enjoys working with authors to promote books!