The Sea of Tranquility
By Katja Millay
"If we had a telescope, I could show you the Sea of Tranquility." She points up at the sky. "See? Up there on the moon. You can't really tell from here."
"Is that why you have a picture of the moon in your bedroom?" At this point I'm an expert at going along with her tangents.
"You noticed that?"
"It was the only thing on the wall. I thought you were into astronomy."
"I'm not. I keep it there to remind me that it's bullsh**. I thought it sounded like this beautiful, peaceful place. Like where you'd want to go when you die. Quiet and water everywhere. A place that would swallow you up and accept you no matter what. I had this whole image of it."
"Doesn't sound like a bad place to end up."
"It wouldn't be, if it were real."
Like the purest note of a melody, The Sea of Tranquility will pierce your heart and soothe your soul.
The story of Nastya is one that every single person needs to read at least once in their life. To me, it's up there with The Fault In Our Stars, in that its author manages to create such a vivid, and accurate, insight into the human mind and heart. This book is truly a gift - a gift that teaches us that second chances are open to all, love cannot be controlled, and to (forgive the cliche) never judge a book by its cover.
And I think the last one was the one that stuck with me the most.
So many of us are books. Honestly. We have a wealth of stories within us - filled with intricate emotions. These stories make us who we are. And we choose what our covers look like. Whether we choose to put on the appearance of 'the girl next door', or, 'the bad boy', or even 'the nerdy bookworm'. But all of these are just that - covers.
How often do we let the cover fall? How many times have we honestly opened up and let someone read us - to allow someone else to see who we truly are and what makes us who we are?
Nastya is the perfect example of this.
I think the reason I teared up so much reading this, is because I get Nastya. I think we all do, on different levels, depending on the paths we've travelled in life.
She feels like someone else. She feels like she needs to be someone else, for everyone else. That the people who love her expect her to help them love her, and to be the 'her' that they love. They fail to see what is right in front of them. They don't see her hurting. They don't look beneath the cover she's wrapped herself in. They let her hide.
It reminded me of the lyrics to a song called Girl Disappearing by Tori Amos:
'With girl disappearing,
What on earth's occurring?
'Cause she's right in front of me.
A girl disappearing
To some secret prison
Behind her eyes,
"Big surprise there was,
No protection by this urban light.
So I'm running to,
A constellation where they can still see you.'
And Josh holds the key to the 'secret prison' that Nastya has locked herself in.
Not because he's 'that guy'. You know the type - the NA/YA hero, who makes the girl feel all swoon-y, and manages to also be tortured and brooding. Josh is perfect for Nastya (and this is the truth), because he's just as complicated as she is.
He gets her. He gets that her problems can't be solved with the wave of a magic wand. He accepts her problems and all.
That in itself is a miracle in modern society. In most cases, when people discover that a person has issues - e.g. mental health issues - this discovery sets off a chain reaction. The immediate result: change.
A change in image. A change in interaction.
Suddenly this person is glued to their issues. They're not 'the girl next door'. They're 'the depressed girl next door', or, 'the boy whose parents are dead', or even 'the girl who goes to therapy.' Small things arise - people treat them like their made of glass, they hesitate to talk about 'sensitive' topics. Basically, they cease to see the person behind the issue.
Josh isn't like that.
True, he finds it hard at first to deal with Nastya. After all - Nastya is Nastya! Those who have read this book know what I mean :)
But when he discovers why she is the way she is, it doesn't change the way he approaches her. He still sees her. Her. He looks beneath the cover...accepting, not judging.
The biggest lesson this book offers? Life ain't a fairytale - so stop expecting one.
This doesn't mean you should start writing sad poetry, or go get a chip on your shoulder.
It means you need to start looking at life realistically.
We need to stop pretending that all our problems will dissolve. That every day will end in fireworks, and begin with rainbows. Instead, we need to appreciate the good moments. We need to take responsibility for our actions, and deal with our issues, rather than avoid them.
Sometimes we can't save ourselves. Sometimes we need to save each other.
With the most beautiful descriptions - and characters - The Sea of Tranquility should be your next read...or re-read!
Grab a tub of ice-cream, some of Nastya's peanut butter cookies, and settle back with a book that is sure to change your life in more ways than one :)