Right after the sudden death of her mother—her first and most devoted fan—and just before the launch of her high-stakes sophomore album, Greta James falls apart on stage. The footage quickly goes viral and she stops playing, her career suddenly in jeopardy—the kind of jeopardy her father, Conrad, has always predicted; the kind he warned her about when he urged her to make more practical choices with her life.
Months later, Greta—still heartbroken and very much adrift—reluctantly agrees to accompany Conrad on the Alaskan cruise her parents had booked to celebrate their fortieth anniversary. It could be their last chance to heal old wounds in the wake of shared loss. But the trip will also prove to be a voyage of discovery for them both, and for Ben Wilder, a charming historian, onboard to lecture about The Call of the Wild, who is struggling with a major upheaval in his own life. As Greta works to build back her confidence and Ben confronts an uncertain future, they find themselves drawn to and relying on each other.
It’s here in this unlikeliest of places—at sea, far from the packed city venues where she usually plays and surrounded by the stunning scenery of Alaska—Greta will finally confront the choices she’s made, the heartbreak she’s suffered, and the family hurts that run deep. In the end, she’ll have to decide what her path forward might look like—and how to find her voice again.
My thoughts: losing a parent must be a really horrible feeling, especially if you’re not there when it happens. I remember my dad being devastated when my grandmother died, and we knew it was coming. Greta’s mum dies suddenly, without much warning and she’s too far to get there in time to say goodbye. Suffering from the guilt, as well as having then broken up with her boyfriend, she agrees to take her mum’s place on an Alaskan cruise with her father and their friends.
To say Greta and her dad have a tricky relationship is an understatement – they can barely look at each other, let alone talk and mend some fences. But being trapped on a ship and slowing spending time together, things start to thaw.
There’s also a brief connection with another unwilling cruise hostage – writer Ben, who’s there to give a talk on his book about Jack London, although he’d rather be back in New York. He and Greta spend time together, get drunk and share. Something cathartic about an almost stranger in a strange place.
An interesting exploration of grief, forgiveness, and working out where you go from here.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.