THE UNSINKABLE GRETA JAMES
By: Jennifer E. Smith
Published: March 1, 2022
Publisher: Ballantine Books
I honestly didn’t expect to love Greta and her story of redemption as much as I did. It kind of surprised me. But, when I started reading it, I realized that I couldn’t stop thinking about Greta and her dad. I was fully invested and even had a few tears when I finished it.
Greta James is just a girl from Ohio who made it big as an indie rock star and never looked back. Greta can’t believe she is doing shows in Europe and the US to sold-out crowds. She can’t believe that she was on the cover of Rolling Stone or that people care who she is dating or watch her videos online. She just wishes one certain video wouldn’t be making the rounds.
Greta has been reeling from that recent incident that went viral. She’s afraid her career is over but her manager is working hard to get her back out there. Next up is a performance at the NY Governor’s Ball. She just needs to stick to the plan. But, a call from her brother, Asher, has her going on an Alaskan cruise with her dad just a week before she is to perform again. She wasn’t supposed to be going on this cruise. It was her mom’s dream and for her parent’s anniversary, but sadly, her mom died before she got to take that dream trip. Asher asked Greta to go along on the trip with her dad. The problem is that Greta and her dad have had a prickly relationship at best for the last several years. But, Greta decides this just might be the thing she needs, a getaway while all the buzz about her incident settles down.
“It’s a particularly strange kind of loss, when something you don’t think you even want gets taken away from you. “THE UNSINKABLE GRETA JAMES, Jennifer E. Smith
Jennifer Smith is a new-to-me author but has well-known books in the young adult genre. I’m thinking this might be her first in the adult fiction category and I hope there is more to come. Smith writes with a strong sense of place and mood. My heart ached as Greta missed her mom and felt hurt by her dad’s lack of praise. My stomach flip-flopped as she started to feel a bit flirtatious with Ben. I cheered for her and cried with her as she traveled through the Alaskan landscape coming to terms with her career, her grief, and creating a new life without her mom.
You can’t be on a cruise ship without a bit of romance and I felt it was the right kind of relationship for the story. It didn’t feel contrived or forced, but instead was natural and realistically moved through the story. Greta’s strained relationship with her father was relatable and was a source of so much pain, for both of them. The moment where each of them was able to finally have their say was pivotal and such a character-building moment. Greta wasn’t the same person when she left the ship and this conversation with her dad was a large part of that. Many of us have hard family relationships and readers will be able to connect to Greta and her dad in this scene.
“Maybe the point isn’t always to make things last, he says. Maybe it’s just to make them count.”THE UNSINKABLE GRETA JAMES, Jennifer E. Smith
This story is very sentimental as readers watch Greta struggle with the loss of her mom, a recent breakup, a possible damaged career, and a strained relationship with her dad. But, they will also see Greta be able to dig deep and find she isn’t the person she thought she was. She will emerge from this trip stronger and more sure about the direction of her life than ever.
I see a lot of comparisons to Daisy Jones and the Six going around and I highly disagree. This isn’t written in an interview format and doesn’t include multiple band members and their falling out. It’s Greta’s story. Greta is a grieving daughter who just happens to be a musician. Greta will inspire you to go after your dreams and reflect on how far you have already come.
Jennifer E. Smith is the author of nine books for young adults, including The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight and Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between, both of which have recently been adapted for film. She earned a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and her work has been translated into thirty-three languages. She currently lives in Los Angeles. Find out more on her website, HERE.