Publication date: March 2022
Category: Family saga fiction, mother’s and children fiction
Review, short version: Four roses out of four
Review, long version:
After I finished Jennifer Smith’s The Unsinkable Greta James, I didn’t immediately start another book, as I usually would.
I didn’t want to change my focus just yet.
I wanted to linger for awhile in what I’ll call Greta Glow.
The glow that I get when I thoroughly enjoy a book.
Unsinkable held my attention throughout, and ended in a way I found satisfying. I liked Smith’s writing and storytelling, and I enjoyed being part of her characters’ challenges and changes.
Greta is a single, 36-year-old Indie music writer/singer/guitarist. Over the past 10 years her career has grown: She now plays to large crowds, her songs are on the radio, her second album will soon be released, and she’s recognized and asked for autographs on the street.
Greta seemed to be living exactly the life she’d dreamed of.
“Seemed,” as in – past tense.
One night while on stage, soon after the sudden death of her mother, Greta has a meltdown. The video goes viral, and Greta goes into hiding.
A year earlier, Greta’s mother had started planning an Alaskan cruise that she and Greta’s father would take to celebrate their 40th anniversary. Two couples that Greta’s parents are close to would join them on the cruise.
Then Greta’s mother dies, and Greta’s brother suggests that – since Greta isn’t doing anything, anyway – she should take her mother’s place on the cruise.
It’s a situation that’s full of potential – including potential landmines. Greta and her father have been at war for years, and now a week, trapped on a cruise ship with him?
And since her meltdown, Greta is also questioning her own life choices:
“Greta finds it almost painful sometimes to think about all the different lives she could be leading, to know that every choice she’s made has meant the loss of so many other possibilities. Every day, more doors close. Without even trying, simply by moving forward, you end up doubling down on the life you’ve chosen. And the only way to survive is to commit to it fully, to tell yourself it’s the right one. But what if that’s not true?”
If you enjoy characters’ challenges and changes, I recommend Unsinkable.
I very often find myself at odds with Amazon reviewers. For example, I did a post back in March about The Midnight Library, which I strongly disliked. At the time, the book had more than 140,000 Amazon reviewers, 4.3 stars, and had been on the New York Times best sellers list for 64 weeks.
As I write this, Midnight Library just chalked up its 77th week on the New York Times list, showing how out-of-step with the majority I was and continue to be.
But not this time.
This time I found myself in accord with 83 percent of Smith’s 1200+ reviewers and Unsinkable’s 4.2 stars rating.
They liked it, I liked it, and I hope Jennifer Smith is working on another novel.