I live in a world without magic or miracles. A place where there are no clairvoyants or shapeshifters, no angels or superhuman boys to save you. A place where people die and music disintegrates and things suck. I am pressed so hard against the earth by the weight of reality that some days I wonder how I am still able to lift my feet to walk.
Former piano prodigy Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone learning about her past and to make the boy who took everything from her—her identity, her spirit, her will to live—pay.
Josh Bennett’s story is no secret: every person he loves has been taken from his life until, at seventeen years old, there is no one left. Now all he wants is be left alone and people allow it because when your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space.
Everyone except Nastya, the mysterious new girl at school who starts showing up and won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. But the more he gets to know her, the more of an enigma she becomes. As their relationship intensifies and the unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he will ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding—or if he even wants to.
The Sea of Tranquility is a rich, intense, and brilliantly imagined story about a lonely boy, an emotionally fragile girl, and the miracle of second chances.
“He’s kissing me. And when he does, part of me is lost. But it’s the part that’s twisted and mangled and wrong, and for just that moment, with his hands in my hair and his lips on my mouth, I can pretend that it never existed.”
“What? Sunshine fits you. It’s bright and warm and happy. Just. Like. You.”
“I haven’t started counting yet. I wonder if it’s just me or if it’s like that for everybody; that every time someone dies you start counting how much time has passed since they’ve been gone. First you count it in minutes, then in hours. You count in days, then weeks, then months. Then one day you realize that you aren’t counting anymore, and you don’t even know when you stopped. That’s the moment they’re gone.”
“Call me Sunshine again, and I will murder you, cocksucker.”
“I don’t really care what people say about me. I’m fine with lies and rumors. It’s the truth I don’t want being told.”
“I’m going to walk over to you,” I say, taking one step at a time in her direction like I’m talking down a jumper. “I’m going to put my arms around you and I’m going to hold you,” I pause before taking the last step, “and you’re going to let me.”
‘I love you, Sunshine,’ I tell her, before I lose my nerve. ‘And I don’t give a shit whether you want me to or not.”
“Seeing Josh is my homecoming. I didn’t tell him I was coming back. He doesn’t say anything when he sees me, and neither do I, because the fact that I’m here is an answer. We just look at each other and speak in the silence like we always have and no one interrupts the conversation.”
“And does she get that chance?” she asks Josh while I desperately focus on the poster of literary terms on the wall and wait for absolution. When it comes, I barely hear it.
“Dying really isn’t so bad after you’ve done it once. And I have. I’m not afraid of death anymore. I’m afraid of everything else.”
“Just so you know,” I inform him, “one day, I’m going to get tired of sharing your affection with that coffee table and I’m going to make you choose.” “Just so you know,” he mimics me, “I would chop that table up and use it for firewood before I would ever choose anything over you.”
“Just because I don’t talk about it, doesn’t mean I forget.”
“When you look at her what do you feel?… Joy, fear, frustration, longing, friendship, anger, need, despair, love, lust?”
“All of it.”
“Congratulations, then. You wanted to be ruined? Well, you did yourself one better because you wrecked me, too, Sunshine. Now we’re both worth shit.”
All the pieces of all the girls go flying and I’m holding the one who’s left.”
“Where did you go?’ His voice drops just slightly and loses even the suggestion of a smile.
He’s watching me like he’s not sure he’s allowed to ask question, and he’s not even sure he wants the answer. I can almost see grandfather’s word and josh’s doubt about them swimming in his head. On every side of me are the lights and the tools and the wood and the boots and the boy I want to see forever. And if the my Sea of Tranquility were real, it would be this place, here, with him.
I don’t say anything right away, because I just want one minute to look at his face before I gave him my last secret.
And then I tell him.