Review: The Last True Poets of the Sea

The Last True Poets of the Sea
By Julia Drake
Published October 1, 2019 by Disney-Hyperion

Publisher’s Summary:
The Larkin family isn’t just lucky—they persevere. At least that’s what Violet and her younger brother, Sam, were always told. When the Lyric sank off the coast of Maine, their great-great-great-grandmother didn’t drown like the rest of the passengers. No, Fidelia swam to shore, fell in love, and founded Lyric, Maine, the town Violet and Sam returned to every summer.

But wrecks seem to run in the family. Tall, funny, musical Violet can’t stop partying with the wrong people. And, one beautiful summer day, brilliant, sensitive Sam attempts to take his own life.

Shipped back to Lyric while Sam is in treatment, Violet is haunted by her family’s missing piece – the lost shipwreck she and Sam dreamed of discovering when they were children. Desperate to make amends, Violet embarks on a wildly ambitious mission: locate the Lyric, lain hidden in a watery grave for over a century.

She finds a fellow wreck hunter in Liv Stone, an amateur local historian whose sparkling intelligence and guarded gray eyes make Violet ache in an exhilarating new way. Whether or not they find the Lyric, the journey Violet takes-and the bridges she builds along the way-may be the start of something like survival.

The Last True Poets of the Sea is a young adult contemporary novel that’s loosely based on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.

Last true poetsViolet’s family is falling apart. Her brother Sam attempted suicide, and now he’s in a treatment facility and she’s been sent to stay with her uncle in the small Maine town of Lyric, where her mother grew up. Her brother’s mental health issues are long standing, and Violet has been dealing with her fractured family for the past year with partying and sex.

In Lyric, Violet befriends some local kids, including Orion and the beguiling Liv. Lyric is a quirky place, and Violet’s family has a long history with the town, which was founded by her ancestors Ransom and Fidelia. Fidelia was the sole survivor of a shipwreck that’s never been located. Liv is obsessed with the town’s legends, and she and Violet bond as they search for the shipwreck.

I really enjoyed the family dynamics that are explored in the book. Sam’s mental health issues have been the family’s focus, and Violet has found ways of acting out. She feels banished to Lyric and guilty that she wasn’t there for her brother. It’s an interesting look at the ripple effects of mental health issues.

I loved the depiction of Lyric. It’s a quirky place with quirky people, and it’s a good place for Violet to heal. I was really interested in her family’s role in the town history, and I wish there had been a bit more of that in the book.

Overall, this was a moving look at a girl whose family is in crisis, and it has a very sweet queer romance. I recommend it for anyone who likes their contemporary YA on the whimsical side.

I received an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley.

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