Summary and book reviews of The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake

The Last True Poets of the Sea

by Julia Drake

The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake X
The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Oct 2019, 400 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2021, 400 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Catherine M Andronik
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About this Book

Book Summary

From a stunning new voice in YA literature comes an epic, utterly unforgettable contemporary novel about a lost shipwreck, a missing piece of family history, and weathering the storms of life.

The Larkin family isn't just lucky-they persevere. At least that's what Violet and her younger brother, Sam, were always told. When the Lyric sank off the coast of Maine, their great-great-great-grandmother didn't drown like the rest of the passengers. No, Fidelia swam to shore, fell in love, and founded Lyric, Maine, the town Violet and Sam returned to every summer.

But wrecks seem to run in the family: Tall, funny, musical Violet can't stop partying with the wrong people. And, one beautiful summer day, brilliant, sensitive Sam attempts to take his own life.

Shipped back to Lyric while Sam is in treatment, Violet is haunted by her family's missing piece--the lost shipwreck she and Sam dreamed of discovering when they were children. Desperate to make amends, Violet embarks on a wildly ambitious mission: locate the Lyric, lain hidden in a watery grave for over a century.

She finds a fellow wreck hunter in Liv Stone, an amateur local historian whose sparkling intelligence and guarded gray eyes make Violet ache in an exhilarating new way. Whether or not they find the Lyric, the journey Violet takes-and the bridges she builds along the way-may be the start of something like survival.

Epic, funny, and sweepingly romantic, The Last True Poets of the Sea is an astonishing debut about the strength it takes to swim up from a wreck.

Excerpt
The Last True Poets of the Sea

The Lyric Aquarium had been imposing in my memory, but when I saw it that morning, the first word that came to mind was rinky-dink. The building was octagonal, once painted blue but now weathered the pale gray color of vitamins I'd gagged on as a kid. Inside, the foyer smelled of salt water and rot, and the ticket desk, a cheap folding table, was coated in a fine layer of dust. The main room's focal point was a touch tank that housed nurse sharks and sea cucumbers; another circular tank held rays and skates doing slow, morose laps. A marine skeleton hung from the ceiling, its bones suspended by fishing line. A sickly whale? An extra-large tuna? It was a little embarrassing that I didn't have a clue.

"Violet?"

A white-haired white lady in a black fleece and tall brown rain boots was striding toward me, trailed by a wolfish dog. This must have been Joan, the aquarium's director. She broke into a huge smile as she reached for my hand.

"Oh my ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The Last True Poets of the Sea is a rich novel about a troubled teen finding her roots and her emotional center, set evocatively in a long summer on the New England shore. The coastal Maine setting is lovingly described, complete with rocky shores, seasonal lobster shacks, equally seasonal tourists and tourist attractions, and also the signs of economic hard times on the outskirts of town...continued

Full Review (620 words).

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(Reviewed by Catherine M Andronik).

Media Reviews

BookPage (starred review)
Drake's enthralling debut doesn't shy away from the big stuff. The Last True Poets of the Sea explores themes of identity, mental health, romance and family with grace and gravitas.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
A warm, wise, strange meditation on developing the strength to be vulnerable.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
If at times the novel seems crowded, Violet emerges as a genuine, sympathetic protagonist struggling to create something new from the wreckage of her life.

Booklist (starred review)
Wry, quick-witted, and filled with deep grief and fathomless joy in equal measure, this is a triumphant debut.

School Library Journal (starred review)
This contemporary romance has relatable characters on journeys of self-discovery and healing. A must-buy for all YA collections.

Author Blurb Angie Manfredi, Youth Services Consultant, State Library of Iowa
A mystery, a redemption story, a family story, a love story, a best friend story, and a whole lot of incredible, vivid writing. I know readers are going to root for Violet and want to ride out the waves of life, love, and loss with her.

Author Blurb Jeff Zentner, Morris Award-winning author
As warm and bright as a beach bonfire on a hazy summer night, The Last True Poets of the Sea will lift you up on a tide of love and lyricism, and carry you away, laughing and crying.

Author Blurb Madeline Miller, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Circe and Song of Achilles
This story of a young woman coming to terms with herself and her family is so filled with virtues and heart that it is hard to know where to begin. It is at once tender and incisive, profound and page-turning, warm and beautifully written and very funny.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

The Wreck of the Royal Tar

Artist's depiction of the Royal Tar shipwreck featuring horses and people flailing in the wavesThe wreck of the Lyric and Fidelia Hathaway's swim to shore in The Last True Poets of the Sea are fictional, but there are indeed nearly one thousand shipwrecks off Maine's rocky coastline, all with stories of their own. Some involved passenger ships like the Lyric; others were military or commercial vessels. Some wrecks are visible, generally at low tide; others have been lost forever. The sites of some wrecks have been studied; others are the subject of conjecture, such as the 1635 galleon called the Angel Gabriel, rumored to lie somewhere in the Pemaquid Bay near Bristol. One of the most memorable of Maine's many shipwrecks is the disaster that struck the steamship Royal Tar in October 1836.

The Royal Tar left St. John, New Brunswick,...

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