Thank you so much to Roaring Book Press via Bookish First for the finished copy of The Sea Is Salt and So am I! Book received in exchange for an honest review – all opinions are mine!
Bookish Quick Facts:
- Title: The Sea Is Salt and So am I
- Series: N/A
- Author: Cassandra Hartt
- Publisher & Release: Roaring Book Press, June 8th 2021
- Length: 374pgs
- Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟✨ for fans of YA contemporary
Here is the Synopsis from Amazon:
I’ll Give You the Sun meets Normal People in Cassandra Hartt’s The Sea Is Salt and So Am I, a stunning YA contemporary debut that asks if the secrets we keep and the people we love can change who we are.
West Finch is one hurricane away from falling into the sea.
Yet sixteen-year-old Harlow Prout is determined to save her small Maine hometown. If only she could stop getting in her own way and find someone, anyone, willing to help. But her best friend Ellis MacQueen “fixes” problems by running away from them—including his broken relationship with his twin brother, Tommy. And Tommy’s depression has hit a new low, so he’s not up for fixing anything.
In the wake of the town’s latest devastating storm, Tommy goes out for a swim that he doesn’t intend to survive. It’s his unexpected return that sets into motion a sea change between these three teens. One that tests old loyalties, sparks new romance, and uncovers painful secrets. And nothing stays secret in West Finch for long.
Exquisitely honest and shimmering with emotion, The Sea is Salt and So Am I is a captivating multi-POV story that probes the depths of what it means to love and trust—both ourselves and others.
I’m going to open this with one of my infamous OneReadingNurse medical rants: Don’t stop taking your psych meds or antidepressants (or any other medication) just because you feel better!! I wish Tommy had gotten lectured a LOT harder on page for this. Also parents: for f*cks sake don’t trust that your teenager is taking their meds, the lack of parental oversight in this book had me so frustrated as a medical person!
Anyway! It’s really a decent book though and takes a good look at mental health and why teens shouldn’t think everything is their fault. It explores how our actions affect those around us. There is great description and scenery, a small town atmosphere, and a silly dog named Goose sho is only 6 but everyone seems to write off as ancient. Why do they keep saying a 6 year old dog is ready to drop dead of old age!? They are all environmentally conscious too and have to consider both sides of an issue surrounding a protected bird species.
This book focuses on three teens in a Maine town that is one storm short of being lost to sea, and the lifelong attention-seeking competition between them. There are twin brothers and a then a girl that entered the picture about 5-6 years prior to the start of the book, and they just constantly swing attention seeking behaviors back and forth through poor life decisions, making each other’s lives miserable, and refusing to be happy for each other. Like typical teenagers, they have no concept of “the big picture” and believe that the entire world, and all of the others’ life decisions just revolve around them, are caused by them, etc.
This is what the competition looks like: One brother lost a leg, and the parents spent a fortune on a running blade…so the other brother probably started feeling bad, and said well I’ll eventually bottom out and kill myself. Fast forward to now and I swear it’s a competition. “Oh yeah? Well I’m going to crash a car”. “I’ll top you by going off my meds again.” “Well I’m going to ruin your relationship and engage in risky sexual behaviors like picking up a random person at Friendly’s” … (These are not actual quotes from the book). The two brothers just. never. quit. Then Harlow is trying to fix everyone and everything but is so self absorbed, and each one thinks it’s their fault that the others are behaving as such. The other part is that their parents all seem too wrapped up in other things to be paying half enough attention and its one big confusing summer in West Finch. That said though, I think Harlow is probably the most likeable of the three.
The real issue though? None of these kids should be, or feel, responsible for each other.
There is a lot of vague writing concerning the teens’ back story, which is why i dropped so many stars – I don’t like when authors vaguely hint at things and expect us to make significant connections. The connection I made was that all three teens are terrible people, secretly in love, and in competition for both parental and friendly attention. I never figured out the animosity between Harlow and Tommy that led up to the Ruby thing, but it seems like they’ve been picking at each other for years until it ended in outright sabotage.
One other huge issue was that God should be capitalized in text, even when *cringe* used in the slang. I think it appeared 2-3 times and I’ve never seen it lowercased like that. I don’t know if the author meant is as a slight but it comes across as such.
Ultimately: this is a good and probably important YA read, I know a lot of people are focusing on mental health these days so it’s a well timed book. I can recommend it as an honest look at mental health, keeping secrets, and trying to come of age.