November 24, 2016

Phantom Limbs - Paula Garner

Title: Phantom Limbs
Author: Paula Garner
Pages: 368
Publisher: Candlewick
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads rating: 

About: Otis and Meg were inseparable until her family abruptly moved away after the terrible accident that left Otis’s little brother dead and both of their families changed forever. Since then, it’s been three years of radio silence, during which time Otis has become the unlikely protégé of eighteen-year-old Dara—part drill sergeant, part friend—who’s hell-bent on transforming Otis into the Olympic swimmer she can no longer be. But when Otis learns that Meg is coming back to town, he must face some difficult truths about the girl he’s never forgotten and the brother he’s never stopped grieving. As it becomes achingly clear that he and Meg are not the same people they were, Otis must decide what to hold on to and what to leave behind. Quietly affecting, this compulsively readable debut novel captures all the confusion, heartbreak, and fragile hope of three teens struggling to accept profound absences in their lives.

I spent the majority of this book yelling THIRTEEN like Luca from the Babysitter's Club movie.

Hey Luca, you alright buddy?

First of all, I just don't buy this deep, epic love that Meg and Otis supposedly had because THEY WERE THIRTEEN (look it's happening again).  I'd buy best friends, I'd buy crush, but this first everything overwhelming can't imagine being with anyone else love that they bring up throughout the whole book?  No.  And I'm a sucker for the whole best friends to lovers thing, so it's a double bummer that I couldn't get on board with these two.

It took way too long to get to the point of the Meg/Mason story.  Mason is Otis's little brother who died, which is the catalyst for Meg and her family moving away.  You know that Meg was somehow involved in Mason's death and everyone hides it from Otis, but it takes waaaaaaaaay too long to get to the point.  And because it takes so long, the reveal doesn't feel big enough.  Or maybe the reveal not being big enough makes it feel like it takes longer.

My big problem with this book is that it feels like there was too much going on.  Just look at Dara.  She's training Otis to help him get to the Olympics, she's dealing with her phantom limb pain from her shark attack (really), her dad not ever being home, her self acceptance issues, her first girlfriend, her suicidal tendencies, her jealousy of Meg.  Too much!  And she's not even a main character!

I'm starting to see this one pop up on a lot of best of lists and I just don't get it.  The oversold soulmate feelings, underwhelming mystery death, and all the issues ever! make this book too much and not enough at the same time.  I didn't find myself rooting for any of the characters, and when I can't get on a friends to lovers story you know something's wrong.  Phantom Limbs was not a winner for me.

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