Friday, December 19, 2014

Sloppy Seconds: The Sea of Tranquility by: Katja Millay

Welcome to Sloppy Seconds which is a monthly feature hosted by myself and Michele of A Belle's Tales. Sloppy Seconds is a feature in which Michele and I buddy re-read some of our very favorite books and then post our thoughts and feels. So sit back, relax, grab a glass of wine, and re-live some great reads with us!

Release Date: November 13, 2012
from Atria
Goodreads | Amazon

"I live in a world without magic or miracles. A place where there are no clairvoyants or shapeshifters, no angels or superhuman boys to save you. A place where people die and music disintegrates and things suck. I am pressed so hard against the earth by the weight of reality that some days I wonder how I am still able to lift my feet to walk.

Former piano prodigy Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone learning about her past and to make the boy who took everything from her—her identity, her spirit, her will to live—pay.

Josh Bennett’s story is no secret: every person he loves has been taken from his life until, at seventeen years old, there is no one left. Now all he wants is be left alone and people allow it because when your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space.

Everyone except Nastya, the mysterious new girl at school who starts showing up and won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. But the more he gets to know her, the more of an enigma she becomes. As their relationship intensifies and the unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he will ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding—or if he even wants to.

The Sea of Tranquility is a rich, intense, and brilliantly imagined story about a lonely boy, an emotionally fragile girl, and the miracle of second chances."

**spoilers ahead**

Teresa Mary Rose
Wifey... I cannot even begin to express how amazing it was re-reading Sea of Tranquility with you!

Michele Belle
I loved every second and every page of it!  We shared so many feels!! This is our last re-read and discussion for 2014, and I can't think of a better book to end the year with.  The Sea of Tranquility was not only my favorite book of 2012, but it is in my top five favorites of all time. Wasn't re-visiting Josh Bennett and Sunshine absolutely wonderful?

Teresa Mary Rose
Yes. This was a wonderful pick to close out the year with. It was so perfect re-visiting Josh and Sunshine. I love them so much and their book is so beautiful. Last month we talked about Braden and how I made you read those books. Well with SoT I have you to thank. Everyone was raving about this book but it was you and your glowing recommendation that made me finally pick this one up and I can't thank you enough for sharing these wonderful characters with me. Their story is such a special one.

Michele Belle
You don't know how happy that makes me -- I'm talking thrill-my-soul happy!  I couldn't wait for you to read this brilliant book and fall just as hard for it as I did.  I just love that you love it, too, and that these characters captured your heart the way they did mine. Thank you so much for reading it and then re-reading it with me.  Isn't it amazing how differently the book affects you the second time around?  The first time I read it, I couldn't wait to learn what things had occurred to set the characters, especially Nastya, on the paths they were on.  Then once everything was revealed, it hurt so badly I wished I could have unlearned it.  Going into it for a second time you already know everything that has transpired, and it made me understand the characters even more; and I think I sobbed AND soared more this time than the first (if that is possible).  Did you have a different experience re-reading SoT?

Teresa Mary Rose
It is such a different experience when you read the book for the second time. The first time around I tried to fly through it, because like you, I wanted to know what happened and how the characters became who they are. And then I learned it and it just broke me. This time around though I just wanted to savor the story. I wanted to savor every last word on every page. I felt like I was looking at the story with fresh eyes and I could see things I didn't see the first time around. Probably my favorite example of this is the scene when Sunshine walks into Josh's garage for the first time. Reading that scene knowing what I know now, well it was just so much better. But while I wanted to savor it, I was also so impatient the second time. I wanted to savor the story but I also wanted to get to my favorite parts that I knew were coming.

Michele Belle
Exactly!  I loved savoring every moment of these two this time.  Instead of "why are they doing that?" it was "I completely understand why they are doing that."  Yes! That is a perfect example of why I think I cried more this time than last.  Everything was so full of meaning.  Every expression, mannerism, and movement.  And those favorite parts?  Even sweeter than before.

Teresa Mary Rose
Yes! Everything this time around hurt so much more but was also so much sweeter. Knowing everything really helps you to understand why both Josh and Sunshine do the things they do. I think this is one of those books that really needs to be re-read. I finally feel like I have the entire story now. And the writing! My gosh... it is so beautiful. I especially love the writing in the beginning when it is extremely internal heavy. We barely have any dialogue and spend most of the time in Sunshine's head and it is just so gorgeous.

Michele Belle
I wholeheartedly agree -- a must re-read! Katja Millay is a writing goddess. She writes so beautifully -- I have passages upon passages highlighted and more pages bookmarked than I should share.  I love that there is so little dialogue in the beginning and we get to know Nastya by being privy to her innermost thoughts, and I adore all her observations of those around her.  Then we get to know Sunshine through Josh's eyes.  Then we learn about another part of this complex girl; and even though we warn spoilers, I want to avoid saying anything about her because that is something the reader should discover for themselves. There are so many layers to Josh's Sunshine, and I love every one of them.  And speaking of love... Josh f*cking Bennett.  That boy.  Easily one of my most favorite male characters.  He just sneaks up on you!  He is such a beautiful soul.  There isn't a force field strong enough that can keep you from falling for him. The pace of the relationship between these two is perfection.   From not even friends, to close friends, to so much more.  I'm so happy they found each other.

Teresa Mary Rose
The progression of the story is just such a beautiful and perfect build up. You are given the story in such slow pieces and it is so beautiful. It is just layer upon layer upon layer until you finally see the full picture. 

Josh Bennett is a special character and there really is nobody else like him. I can't think of another character I could even begin to compare him to. He is such a wonderful person, even if not everyone can really see that. 

I am so glad you brought up the progression of their relationship because it is one of the points I have in my notes to discuss. I love how unconventional their love story is. At times the reader almost feels as if they truly hate one another. Their relationship is so special and so strong but it is also so different from so many others. I don't even know how to describe it.

Michele Belle
It's one of my favorite aspects of the story. I just love how they intentionally and unintentionally antagonize one another and then slowly but steadily begin to penetrate the walls that they each have built so securely around their hearts.  I just don't see the two of them relating to anyone else like they do to each other.  They were meant to be. Never has a couple needed one another like these two.

And while the author writes beautiful and heartbreaking moments, I want to mention she also writes the most hilarious laugh-out-loud parts, too!  And since we're on hilarious:  Drew Leighton.  He just might win the award for most beloved secondary character in a story.  There are so many great characters in this book, but Drew is such fun.  And his friendship with his Nastypants warmed my heart as much as it burned Josh's butt in the beginning.   LOL!  Wouldn't you love a story from Drew's POV?

Teresa Mary Rose
I agree completely. Those two are perfect together and are simply meant to be. They both need each other and are perfect. But I also want to stress that their relationship is not a fix all... there is a lot of other things that need to happen before they can be happy together. And I also want to talk about their banter. Those two have some of the best banter ever. For people of few words, they have a lot to say at times and are incredibly witty.

I WANT A DREW BOOK AND I WANT IT NOW. DREW AND TIERNEY!!!! GIVE IT TO ME! I adore Drew. I love his relationship with Nastya and I love how much he drove Josh nuts. I also love that he helped Josh to realize how he truly felt about Nastya. I also love that Drew is the first guy the reader is introduced to. I feel like this is such a little curve ball. Normally the first cute guy the reader sees ends up being the love interest but in SoT we "meet" Drew first and he is not the love interest. I just loved that it kinda defied expectations.

Michele Belle
Yes, Josh and Nastya have so much healing to do and have to learn to love themselves again before they can learn to love each other; but had they not become involved, I don't think either of them would have ever been willing to acknowledge that.  She saved him... and he saved her right back. 

Wasn't that a great little twist?  I loved that we met Drew before Josh.  Drew plays a very important role in the story, and I also love the character growth we see in him.  When Nastya's secret is revealed, it affects Drew just as much as Josh. Josh is devastated, but Josh is no stranger to devastation.  Drew is such a fun loving guy; and though he may come across as a bit of a bad boy, there is an innocence in Drew that makes him especially vulnerable to Nastya's pain.  

Another character I loved was Clay.  From the first time he propped the door open with his book for Nastya, he had my heart. I thought he gave us some wonderful insight into a younger Josh Bennett, too.  Clay is a fantastic addition to the story.  Drew's mother is another character that I enjoyed.  I love how she "claimed" Josh as one of her own and how welcome she made Nastya feel in her home.  I was frustrated with Nastya's parents, especially by what her mother did on her birthday, but I felt for Asher.  What do you think about these characters -- and please won't you share how you feel about Drew's sister, Sarah? *giggles and hides*

Nastya's story broke my heart.  Wifey, you know me well, and you know that reading is not my only passion.  The piano is my true love.  I can't imagine having that taken away from me, and I cried so many tears for this character and what she had lost.  I understood her anger and her emotional pain.  I really related to Nastya, but I love that there is something to relate to in each of the characters the author gives us.  Was there a particular character that you felt a connection to and why?

Teresa Mary Rose
Agreed. Those two helped each other realize that there can be more to life if they are willing to finally embrace it. 

I loved that little twist. I distinctly remember reading it the first time and thinking who is this Drew? Will he be our love interest... and then I remembered... wait Wifey loves Josh where is this Josh. Drew really is a very important part of the story to both Josh and Nastya. Drew may be a bad boy, but he had quite a bit of growing up to do.

Clay was another wonderful character and a truly special one. He had no reason to help Nastya but he did so anyway. Drew's mother is so wonderful and I loved her. She had such a big heart. Nastya's parents really frustrated me as well. I was not amused with the birthday stunt. I did not think that was the right way to approach the situation. I really liked Asher, except when he was giving Josh a hard time... but I understand why he did that. He didn't know the impact Josh was having on her. Ugh.... Sarah.... I dislike her immensely. I could go on about a lot of thing but she really isn't worth my wrath. But even she comes around in the end.

I knew Nastya and her story would be much more personal for you. The piano is not something I can relate to but there are things I know I would be devastated to lose and I just cannot imagine her pain. I wouldn't say there is a character in particular I relate to in this one, but if I had to pick one I would probably go with Drew and mostly because of his wit and humor. Like Drew I have a tendency to make a joke out of everything and when I am uncomfortable, humor is my fall back so I really understood how Drew always fell back on that. Although.... Nastya's love of ice cream truly speaks to my soul.

Michele Belle
Perfectly put!

Oh, Wifey.  You're my Drew and I'm your Nastypants.  I just knew you'd say Drew -- I adore your sense of humor and the way you always know when I need it most.  Just like Drew does for the people he cares for.  

And let's talk about this ice cream.  I love that she likes it just like I do -- the melty parts around the sides. Her love of all things sugary is something we can definitely get on board with.  I love that she bakes cakes and cookies and that while it started out as a part of her physical therapy, it plays a big role in her emotional therapy as well.  I also love the way she ran. She didn't go jogging -- she ran.  She ran fast and hard -- from the demons that chased her as well as the one that found her.  The way that Nastya dealt with things may not be something everyone can understand, but sometimes we do the best we can and all we know how to make it through the day.

Teresa Mary Rose
You just know me so well. I can't surprise you anymore haha.

Nastya has a wonderful taste in food... sugar sugar and some more sugar. The ice cream on the cover is absolute perfection. Wifey sometimes I really think you can read my mind because you have just led me straight into a rant I have in my notes to discuss. I cannot stand it when people judge Nastya for the way she reacted. There is not much out there that is negative concerning this book, but the little bit I have seen has been surrounding the way Nastya reacted to her situation. I have seen stuff such as she overreacted or needed to just move on and that her reaction was horrible and she needed to grow up.... and this brings out my rage face because one- how dare you and two- HOW DARE YOU. You cannot judge someone for how they react to trauma because everyone is going to react differently in their attempts to cope. Nastya copes in the only way she knows how. There is a reason for everything she does and if doing those things helps her to get through another day then you need to respect that. Did Nastya need help? Yes she did, but she also needed to come to terms with that herself.

Michele Belle
I adore the cover!  It fits the story so well and makes this book beautiful inside and out.  

I just felt a rant coming on.  I have heard mostly praise and adoration for this story, but that kind of negativity saddens me, too.  To those people I would say "walk a mile in her shoes and then get back to me."   There is no right or wrong way to react or recover from a traumatic event like the one she suffers.  The important thing is that she does react and ultimately decides to work on recovering.  Do you know how easy it would be to just give up?  She was angry and she was bitter, and it fueled her.  It made her get up every morning and put one foot in front of the other.  You don't judge someone on how they survive something.  You applaud them for being a survivor.

Teresa Mary Rose
Yes yes and YES! You really are my twin. I agree wholeheartedly with everything you just said. I don't mind someone not liking a book because hey different strokes but I just do not like when people judge characters for situations such as the one Nastya was in.

So let's talk about something un-ranty. This book is full of wonderful scenes and I have so many favorites. Her birthday at the fountain is high up there for me because of reasons. In a sick way I love the "you ruined me" scene because it was just so emotional and raw and made me sob. That scene shattered me (but not as much as a scene that comes later involving a very surprised Nastya and Drew). And of course BEST ENDING EVER. What are some of your favorites? Do we share some?

Michele Belle
As Drew would say... True story!  Wonder twin powers, activate!!  lol  

So.  Many.  Scenes.  I think I'll put it this way:  A bucket of pennies, ice cream in every flavor, black sh*t, power tools, sanding, steel-toed boots, coffee tables, Salvation, one custom made chair, a boy who smells like sawdust, and a garage.  These are a few of my favorite things.

Teresa Mary Rose
Oh excuse me while I go sob now from the feels packed in that one sentence. You could not have put that any more perfectly. 

And I have one more question for you. Do you consider this one YA or NA? I lean towards YA because they are in high school and it just doesn't feel like New Adult to me but I wanted to get your take on it because I am curious.

Michele Belle
Hahaha, oh, Wifey, I'm sorry... but the sobs and the feels for this one just have to be shared. 

That's a really good question.  The first time I read this book, my daughter wasn't quite old enough for the story; but this time around she read it with us, and she absolutely loved it.  I would lean more towards upper YA because of the heavy, and I think it depends on the reader.  

Teresa Mary Rose
Yeah I think Upper YA is the right fit. I just like to ask weird and random questions like that because I see this book pop up on both NA and YA lists. 

Is it quote time? I am so ready to see what you picked!

Michele Belle
Well, you know I love me some random questions, but I think that's a really great one because it fits both categories for different reasons.  I wouldn't want anyone to see it listed as one of those genres and be deterred from picking it up.  

I have so many quotes.  I promise I tried to narrow it down, but every time I tried to omit one puppies cried and angels lost their wings.  So here goes:  

"The loud sounds make it impossible to hear the soft ones, and the soft sounds are the ones you have to be afraid of." 

"Dying really isn't so bad after you've done it once. 
And I have. 
I'm not afraid of death anymore. 
I'm afraid of everything else." 

"She took me in, not because I don't have anywhere else to go, but because I don't have anywhere else I can stand to be." 

"He's the kind of good-looking that transforms once self-respecting females into useless puddles of dumbass." 

"But people are going to stare at me for the wrong reasons anyway, and if they are going to stare at me for the wrong reasons, then at least I should get to pick them." 

"It's like there's an invisible force field surrounding this space and he's the only one inside it." 

"I live in a world without magic or miracles. A place where there are no clairvoyants or shapeshifters, no angels or superhuman boys to save you. A place where people die and music disintegrates and things suck. I am pressed so hard against the earth by the weight of reality that some days I wonder how I am still able to lift my feet to walk." 

"And it's not like it can't do anything; it just can't do the one thing I want it to. The thing that made me, me." 

"Normal people had friends. I had music. I wasn't missing anything." 

"It seems like the more my body healed, the more fractured my mind became, and there aren't enough wires and screws to fix the breaks in it." 

"'She is the sweetest thing!' she exclaims, carrying it into the kitchen. I don't know if there's another person on Earth who would refer to Nastya as the sweetest thing, and I wonder if she sees something the rest of us don't." 

"'Sometimes it's easier to pretend nothing is wrong than to face the fact that everything is wrong, but you're powerless to do anything about it.'" 

"I know at that moment what he's given me and it's not a chair. It's an invitation, a welcome, the knowledge that I am accepted here. He hasn't given me a place to sit. He's given me a place to belong." 

"I have one of Josh Bennett's secrets now. He gave it to me. I wish I could give it back." 

"Running away is her thing. Hiding is mine." 

"Josh Bennett laughs, and for one minute, everything is right in the world." 

"'It's an age-old story,' he says flatly.’Boy meets girl. Boy asks girl to touch him inappropriately. Girl dazzles boy with her impressive knowledge and proper use of profanity. Boy and girl end up in detention together. Love blossoms.'" 

"She's always been like that, like music and lyrics to two different songs." 

*All of Chapter 52* 

"'Every day you save me.'" 

"On every side of me are the lights and the tools and the wood and the boots and the boy I want to see forever. And if my Sea of Tranquility were real, it would be this place, here, with him."

Teresa Mary Rose
OMG Wifey there are so many wonderful quotes up there and a lot of them are my favorites as well. 

Okay first I SO WANT to include the last few passages of the book.... but I think that is something that needs to be experienced in the moment so I shall refrain just know that I really really love it!

"I wouldn’t do it, but then I’m not a very good person."

"I’ve gotten through the rest of the day without seeing the girl again. I’ve mentally flogged myself for opening my stupid mouth at lunch. If there was a reason for it, I might cut myself some slack, but the girl really didn’t seem like the helpless type. Maybe I was just trying to stop her from making enemies of those bitches. Maybe I just wanted Sarah to shut the hell up because I know she’s better than that. Maybe I just wanted the girl to look at me again."

"“Good morning, Sunshine!” Josh F*cking Bennett. By now, I’m pretty sure that if I was to find his birth certificate, that is exactly what it would say."

"I feel like grabbing my crotch and checking to see if my balls are still there, because I think they may be in her pocket and I need to get them back."

"“I like ice cream. You never have any. Bad things happen when I go too long without ice cream,” she says, sounding slightly calmer. “Are you sure you got enough?” “F*ck off.” “Maybe you should open one of those now,” I suggest."

"“Ice cream.” I know those words. I like those words. I look up from the Physics textbook that has been my close companion for the past three hours. I will never pass this test. I should never have even signed up for the class. I was reaching from the beginning. Josh is standing next to me and leans over, shutting the book. I have a feeling this may have something to do with the frustrated barrage of profanity that left my mouth moments ago. Academics have never been my forte. I’m not very smart, a fact that I have no trouble proving to myself several times a day. Asher is the smart one. He checked off that box on the family rubric. Asher has baseball and school. I had the piano. Now I don’t have anything. “You need it. We’re getting it. Now.” Angry Dad voice again. “Now?” “Now. Remember when you said that bad things happen when you don’t get enough ice cream? Bad things are happening. You’re all stressed out and cranky like a teenage boy who’s not getting laid.” “Nice analogy.” Do they get cranky? “Sorry, it’s true. And nobody likes a cranky Sunshine. It goes against the laws of nature.”"

“People who go around advertising their birthdays are douchebags. It’s a fact. You can look it up on Wikipedia.”

“I’d ask you, you know. If I was allowed. I’d ask you a thousand times until you’d tell me. But you won’t let me ask.”

“I wished my mother was here tonight, which is stupid, because it’s an impossible wish.” He shrugs and turns to me, drowning the smile that cracks me every time. “It’s not stupid to want to see her again.” “It wasn’t so much that I wanted to see her again,” he says, looking at me with the depth of more than seventeen years in his eyes. “I wanted her to see you.”

“Because she’s mine and I don’t want you touching her.” I’m a five- year- old fighting over a toy. I feel like an idiot as soon as I say it, but it’s said and it’s true. And I don’t want it to be. “I know,” he says arrogantly. “You know?” “I’m not stupid, Josh. The two of you have been eye- f*cking each other since the beginning of school. I wasn’t going to do anything with her and she was never going to do anything with me.” “Then why all the bullsh*t tonight?” “Just wanted to hear you say it.”

"“Because I know you, and no one makes you do anything you don’t want to do. If you didn’t want to come, you wouldn’t come. And if you didn’t come, you wouldn’t be here. So it follows that if you didn’t want to come, you would not be here right now. But you are here, so by the transitive property of Sunshine, you want to be here.” “I hate you.” “I know that too,” I say nonchalantly, and one side of her mouth turns up in response."

"“You know I meant it. I am human. And male. And not remotely blind. Do you want me to say it again? You are distractingly, even- if- that- is- not- a- real- word pretty. You are so pretty that I bullied Clay Whitaker into drawing me a picture of you so I could look at you when you aren’t around. You are so pretty that one of these days I’m going to lose a finger in my garage because I can’t concentrate with you so close to me. You are so pretty that I wish you weren’t so I wouldn’t want to hit every guy at school who looks at you, especially my best friend.” I stop to catch my breath. “More? I can keep going.” I can keep going, but even as I say all of this, I know it’s not quite true. She’s not just distractingly pretty. She’s the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen, and I want to touch her so badly right now that it’s almost impossible to keep my hands from reaching out and doing it."

“Just so you know,” I inform him, “one day, I’m going to get tired of sharing your affection with that coffee table and I’m going to make you choose.” “Just so you know,” he mimics me, “I would chop that table up and use it for firewood before I would ever choose anything over you.”

"The world should be full of Josh Bennetts. But it’s not. I had the only one. And I threw him away."

"I’m not sure how long we sit in Josh’s truck, holding hands, surrounded by darkness and unspoken regrets. But it’s long enough to know that there are no stories or secrets in the world worth holding onto more than his hand."

"And maybe I’m a liar and I do need it, because being kissed by Josh Bennett is kind of like being saved. It’s a promise and a memory of the future and a book of better stories."

"There’s got to be a happier ending than this here. There’s got to be a better story. Because we deserve one. You deserve one. Even if it doesn’t end with you coming back to me."

Seriously... this is the most quotable book in the history of books.

Michele Belle
Those are perfect and some of my favorites, too. I'm so happy you included the ice cream quotes -- I was counting on the fact that you would.  LOL.  This book IS so very quotable.  It's completely addictive.  And yes, the last few passages would definitely be included in our faves; but we can't, so let it just be noted that we love them. 

Thank you so much for revisiting Josh Bennett and Sunshine with me.  This was one of my favorite discussions of one of my most loved books.  

2014 has been an amazing year, and I have enjoyed this new feature so very much.  I look forward to our future discussions, and I know we'll be gushing over our favorite reads when we're old and wrinkly in rockers on the front porch trying to recall the characters' names.  Love you, Wifey!

Teresa Mary Rose
You Wifey just described my Sea of Tranquility... love you and cannot wait to see what 2015 brings!


  1. I love this boo so much. I read it earlier this year then bought the audio and heard it. So good. And yes, this has the most perfect last sentence of a book, EVER!
    I need Drew to have his own book!

  2. Awww girls, I'm so glad you enjoyed this one the second time too. I have read it a while ago and yeah it might be a great time for reread. I totally agree, it's a great book to end your discussion posts with for this year. Cannot wait to see what you have in plan for the next one. Great review :)

  3. This book is one of those NA classics, definitely a must-read

  4. Okay, so i hate to admit thus but i haven't read SoT yet. *hands head* Bit of you two are gushing this much over a re-read, i beret hey on it! :) Great chat ladies.

  5. YES! I love this book so much and reading your guys' responses/comments just makes me want to pick up the book again! I love it! And this post, like always, was so much fun to read! You two are amazing!!

  6. Wifey, this book. It feels me with ALL the feels. Reading it with you was amazing and I adored discussing it with you. I can't wait to see what 2015 has in store for us! Love you GOBS!!!

    1. 2015 is going to be wonderful and I cannot wait to see what trouble we get into


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