The Sea Is Salt and So Am I

Roaring Brook. Jun. 2021. 384p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250619242.
Gr 10 Up–Harlow is an environmental activist hopelessly in love with her best friend, Ellis, even though she’s hooking up with his twin brother Tommy. Heartbreaker Ellis is bisexual and an athletic runner with a limb difference. Each teen is written with aching authenticity. They often make the wrong decisions and fixate on their mistakes, becoming so self-involved that they can’t see how they are affecting one another. This long and often slow-paced narrative alternates among the three points of view. Ellis and Tommy are extremely different, but both experience suicidal ideation, presented in vastly different ways. The novel starts with Tommy’s attempt to drown himself, but he is eventually saved. Ellis also attempts suicide early in the story, after driving a car into a tree while under the influence. The work adeptly examines the different ways teens deal with similar issues and pressures. Additionally, there is an overarching environmental theme. The teens live in a small Maine town threatened by erosion, and many businesses and houses are collapsing into the ocean. Many teens will identify with the protagonists and their societal and personal struggles. The characters are presumed white.
VERDICT Character-driven and profoundly moving, Hartt’s debut will tug at teens’ heartstrings and is ideal for fans of Jennifer Niven and Nina LaCour.

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