The Unsinkable Greta James, by Jennifer E. Smith was charming and poignant. An overall quick read where the story was easy to get into and the characters relatable. The Unsinkable Greta James explores the rocky relationship between Greta and her father and the feelings and emotions that supersede the presence of grief.
Greta James is a thirty-something indie musician reeling the loss of her biggest fan, her mother. Greta is left with her disapproving father and their tumultuous relationship in the wake of her mother’s unexpected death. In addition to the familial tragedy, Greta is also dealing with a professional blunder and struggling to balance both grief & healing while simultaneously feeling pressured to maintain her career.
Convinced by her brother, Greta involuntarily joins her father, Conrad, on an Alaskan cruise originally planned as a 40th wedding anniversary trip. While on the cruise, Greta meets Jack London, an author & professor, between whom she splits time spending with her father. Greta’s budding relationship with Jack is cathartic & tender. The dysfunctional dynamic between she and Conrad is palpable.
I absolutely LOVED the vivid imagery the author detailed in this story….the beauty of Alaska, the charm of Glacier Bay….makes me want to book an Alaskan cruise, STAT. The relationship Greta shared with her father was uncomfortable and hard to read through at times…her father was disappointing in a lot of ways. I love how the author brought those complex familial ties to life…very realistic in my opinion. The romance between Jack and Greta was a sweet, welcome reprieve.
Overall this was a well-developed, moving story that will certainly give you pause and have you reflecting on your family relationships, too. A bit slow at times, but a really solid read.
4.2 out of 5 stars for me.
***Quick note: if you’re a fan of Parenthood, opt for the audiobook. Mae Whitman narrates the story beautifully.
TW: dysfunctional father/daughter relationships; death of a loved one
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