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Like the Sea After a Storm

Heidi Kling's Sea makes Jenny reminisce about her teenage vacay flirtation, as well as wade through unseemly image search results for the casting call.

Like the Sea After a Storm

BOOK REPORT for Sea by Heidi Kling

BFF Charm: Yay
Swoonworthy Scale: 7
Talky Talk: Right On
Bonus Factors: Indonesia, Mysterious Loner Dude, Diversity
Relationship Status: Summer Love

The Deal:

Sienna (Sea) Jones lost her mother in a plane crash over 3 years ago. She tries to act like she's fine, but she has actually stopped living. She doesn't go into the ocean anymore, and she certainly doesn't surf with her best friend/crush Spider anymore. In fact, their friendship is pretty nonexistent nowadays. So when her big surprise-birthday-present from her dad is a trip to Indonesia-- to work with him and his team to help kids orphaned after the tsunami suffering from PTSD-- she is less than thrilled. In fact, she flat-out refuses to go. Her dad knows she won't go on a plane after what happened! What was he thinking?! KHowever, a rare visit from Spider sparks something in Sienna, and she decides to make the trip.

Once they arrived at the pesantren in Yogyakarta, Sea struggles to deal with the living conditions, is broken-hearted (and comforted) by the orphans from Aceh, and is drawn to a very mysterious boy there. As her feelings for Deni grow, and Sea starts following her heart and breaking rules like only an American teen can, she also realizes that this trip may have been as much for her as for the other orphans.

BFF Charm: Yay

Sienna is a good girl. To be honest, I'd kind of like to be her big sister, or maybe her aunt. She is sometimes rash, the way teenagers can be, and that got on my nerves, as an adult, but not so much so that I hated her. She also grew as the story progressed-- I'm not talking leaps and bounds, because that would have been unrealistic, but in small ways, still maintaining her teen self.

Swoonworthy Scale: 7

This book is fairly chaste, but Kling does a fantastic job of building romantic tension. I immediately liked Spider (despite his wretched nickname), so I wasn't so sure I wanted Sea to like the Indonesian boy I knew she was going to fall for. But then Kling introduced Deni, and oh boy, she made him so hot! I mean, literally, that boy is a sizzler. And the chemistry between the two of them was perfect. If you've ever gone on vacay and met that super-gorgeous boy, and just let yourself fall head-over-heels, even though you know it's only going to be for the week that you're there, you'll know how reading this book felt.

Talky Talk: Right On

Okay, there was one thing that I thought was really going to bug me. When I first started reading Sea, her dad at one point mentions PTSD, and then goes on to spell out for us what the acronym stands for. I immediately thought NO!!! Don't be THAT book!!!!!! However, I kept reading, and it really WASN'T that book. I didn't particularly like that all of the Indonesian or Acehnese words were in italics, only because I didn't feel it was necessary. It was obvious they weren't English words (Although, who knows, I did read an ARC, so this might have been corrected later). I have to give props to Kling for her dealing with the language translation, though. I mean, it's not like Deni was speaking Spanish, and we could have figured out what he was saying without any help. Indonesian is completely different, plus Kling didn't over-translate (In fact, I don't think she ever actually said what a pesantren was. And I won't either. You'll def. have an idea, but I recommend looking it up anyway!). She kept it conversational, and because she did, I found it believable.

Kling's voice for Sienna felt so accurate, that I didn't even really mind when I was annoyed with her for being such a teenager, and I loved Sienna's opinions of the adults around her. The author painted a vivid picture of life through a 15-year old's eyes. I loved watching Sea come to realizations about herself while living this adventure, because although this book dealt with some heavy topics, it was also incredibly personal, and I was surprised by how much I liked it. There WERE a couple of plot points that didn't quite make sense to me, (but that could have been intentional, as told by a 15-year old.) and they were niggling compared to the overall story.

Howevs, if I had ever done what Sea did near the end of the trip, my parents would have Ended. My. Life. Seriously.

Bonus Factor: Indonesia

I honestly don't know much about Indonesia, apart from what a friend of mine from there told me, so it was nice to get a view into some of the culture. Yay culture!

Bonus Factor: Mysterious Loner Dude

Okay, so Deni is, quite possibly, my favorite loner dude, evs. It didn't hurt that he kind of reminded me of this 18-year old Peruvian named Fernando I met when I was 16. Oh, Fernando, you were so cute, and we tried so hard to have conversations, and then we wrote letters, and I was SO sure you were going to whisk me away to your country... and I'm so glad my teenaged mind changed and I stopped writing to you. Sorry. Anyway, what was I saying? Deni, yes! When Sienna meets him, she is so overwhelmed by the exotic and terrifying beauty of the country, and then she sees this super-intense -looking cutie... le sigh.

Bonus Factor: Diversity

Yay for taking an American teenager out of America! I have to say, Sienna did a pretty excellent job acclimating to the living conditions at the pesantren, without too much complaint. That was refreshing. AND hooray for dif. races gettin' together without their race being mentioned! Sienna travelled to Indonesia. There she met a cute boy. The end.

Casting Call:

Bridgit Mendler as Sea

I pictured Sea as a kind of typical American teen. Disney offered me this one. I like her.

Darius Sinathrya as Deni

Do you know how hard it is to find Indonesian actors? Ahem, Hollywood? Anyway, after many failed attempts, an online offer to 'make Indonesian baby', and some questionable sites with pictures of young Indonesian 'actors', I found this guy.

Relationship Status: Summer Love

This book and I fell SO in love over summer vacation. It was something I totally wasn't expecting, because I thought it would be too Disney for me, and it was a little worried about my love for fantasy. But when we started hanging out, and then with the obsessive making out that followed? None of that mattered. I mean, I know we'll probably never see each other again, since we don't even live in the same state, but that's okay. There was a moment right before we left in time for school when the book started talking about coming to visit me once it got its driver's license, but I know there's no way its parents would be okay with that. Still, it will always have a special place in my heart.

FTC Full Disclosure: My review copy was a free ARC I received from Penguin. I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). Sea is now available.

Jenny Bird's photo About the Author: Jenny grew up on a steady diet of Piers Anthony, Isaac Asimov and Star Wars novels. She has now expanded her tastes to include television, movies, and YA fiction.
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