#TheUnsinkableGretaJames by #JenniferESmith #NetGalley #ARCReview

Publication date: March 1, 2022 I was given an Advanced Reader’s Copy of The Unsinkable Greta James by Jennifer E. Smith (Amazon) by NetGalley and Ballantine Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

“Greta James’s meteoric rise to indie stardom was hard-won. Before she graced magazine covers and sold out venues, she spent her girlhood strumming her guitar in the family garage. Her first fan was her mother, Helen, whose face shone bright in the dusty downtown bars where she got her start. But not everyone encouraged Greta to follow her dreams. While many daydream about a crowd chanting their name, her father, Conrad, sees only a precarious life ahead for his daughter.

Greta has spent her life trying to prove him wrong. But three months after Helen’s sudden death, and weeks before the launch of her high-stakes sophomore album, Greta has an onstage meltdown that goes viral. Attempting to outrun the humiliation and heartbreak, she reluctantly agrees to accompany her father on a week-long Alaskan cruise, the very one that her parents had booked to celebrate their fortieth anniversary.

This could be the James family’s last chance to heal old wounds, and will prove to be a voyage of discovery for them, as well as for Ben Wilder, a historian also struggling with a major upheaval in his life. Ben is on board to lecture about Jack London’s The Call of the Wild, the adventure story Greta’s mother adored, and he captures Greta’s attention after her streak of dating hanger-ons. As Greta works to build up her confidence and heal, and Ben confronts his uncertain future, they must rely on one another to make sense of life’s difficult choices. In the end, Greta must make the most challenging decision of all: to listen to the song within her or make peace with those who love her.”

I don’t want to say that this book reminded me of #ReesesBookClub Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, but it definitely had a certain vibe that makes me think if you enjoyed Daisy you’d like The Unsinkable Greta James. It’s about a musician who is going through some turmoil, there’s a love interest, there’s a lot of similarities. Yet there are enough differences that make this a wholly unique story, too.

I really enjoyed the exploration of Greta’s relationship with her father and all the baggage she carried around because of it. Suffice it to say they don’t get along too well. The peace maker was always her mom, her biggest fan. When Greta says she wants to be a musician and a songwriter, her mom is her cheerleader, her dad wonders why she doesn’t pick a more stable job. When Greta’s mom dies unexpectedly, that buffer is removed.

Greta’s brother convinces her to take an Alaskan cruise with her dad, something he and her mom had planned for their fortieth wedding anniversary. Since Greta has just had a disastrous concert appearance in Germany that’s gone viral (of course), she finally agrees it’s the perfect escape from her life. But getting along with her dad is another matter entirely. They spend much of their cruise apart, and when they’re together, they keep having the same old arguments about her life choices and how Greta has always felt her dad didn’t support her once she decided that music was her calling.

On the ship (not a boat, as Greta keeps calling it), she meets the author of a book on Jack London and Call of the Wild (Amazon) and a little relationship dance starts. Greta’s on the heels of a breakup following her breakdown on stage, and Ben, the author, is separated from his wife. In any other situation, Greta and Ben might not have given each other the time of day, but on a ship travelling around glaciers and opportunities for whale watching, anything can happen, apparently. I found their relationship very real, as real as it can seem when you’re dealing with a rock musician and a professor.

I found the situations believable, the description of scenery a plus, and overall, a very satisfying read. I recommend The Unsinkable Greta James to anyone who enjoys a good fiction book with a little romance thrown in. It’s a book about relationships, and the conclusion at the end is a real kicker.

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