Monday, November 7, 2016

Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner

“How do you move on from an irreplaceable loss? In a poignant debut, a sixteen-year-old boy must learn to swim against an undercurrent of grief—or be swept away by it.

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.” taken from

This book is full of mystery and heartbreak. Otis is struggling with a lot. His best friend and former love has suddenly come back into his life after three years of silence and has dredged up lots of conflicting emotions. His little brother, Mason, died at Meg’s house. The two families who were very close and are suddenly ripped apart when Meg’s family moves to California. Otis is also dealing with Dara, a girl who has become his unofficial swim coach now that her dreams of a swimming career are shattered because part of one of her arms was amputated. Readers will be captivated not only by the glorious prose that is Ms. Garner’s novel but their desire to unravel and journey alongside Otis as he learns not only the circumstances and the impact his brother’s death had on the two families but more about Dara and what makes her tick.

How did Mason die? What were the circumstance surrounding his death? Why did Meg’s family leave town afterward? How did Dara lose part of her arm? Why is she determined to make Otis a better swimmer? Can Otis overcome the grief he feels over his brother’s death? What happens when Meg comes back into Otis’ life? How will Otis’ story end?

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