Blurb (from Goodreads):
She is a winding cosmos, bleeding and bursting into night. She is a dream. She is dead.
River has just lost the one thing that matters most to him—Nia—and all she's left behind is a pile of scribbled love notes detailing their past and a pin-holed map planning out their future. Hopes and dreams confined to one dimension now that she's gone and River’s too afraid to leave his hometown, crippled by the same anxiety that’s plagued his mother for as long as he can remember.
But after a strange encounter with the only girl he ever loved a week after laying her to rest, River, armed with nothing but her map and his memories, decides to finally leave and never look back. And with the help of a pair of eccentrically named siblings as well as a mutt with three legs, he sets out to do the very thing Nia always knew how to do better than he ever could—live.
From the moonlit beaches off of Florida's east coast, to the forests of Mississippi, to Bourbon Street, Cadillac Ranch, and the Arizona desert, River is faced with not only Nia's ghost but his own and he learns that in life there are no accidents, only miracles.
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to author Laekan Zea Kemp.)
18-year-old River has just graduated high school, and was looking forward to the day he could run away with his girlfriend Nia, but then she was killed.
Now River must try to come to terms with his grief, while no-one around him even realises or cares what he’s going through. Armed with Nia’s map of places she wanted to visit, River takes off with everything he owns in one backpack.
Where will he go though? What is he supposed to learn on the way? And is Nia really still guiding him?
This was an interesting story of teens learning to deal with their grief.
River was such a deep character, Nia had obviously been his entire life and it was so difficult for him to learn to live without her. I felt really sorry for him the way his whole world had been destroyed by one event that he had no control over, and I could see why he blamed Nia’s brother Julian, I’d have blamed him too.
I liked the storyline in this, and I liked how River followed Nia’s map, even if he wasn’t sure what he was supposed to learn from the journey. I was a little surprised at the role Nia played in this book. I expected there to be more sightings of the actual ‘ghost’ after reading the title and the blurb, but the ghosts here are more emotional than actual ghosts. This isn’t really a paranormal story.
I liked the way that this book was written, and the opening chapters are very compelling and emotional. River’s feelings and grief are palpable, and the story really is beautifully written. The book does move on from this a bit though, and the rest of the book is about River’s journey as he follows Nia’s map, and tries to see/learn what she wanted him to see/learn. This really is a story about River, his grief, and how he heals and grows along the way.
The ending wasn’t quite what I expected, but it was an ending of sorts. There were things that weren’t wrapped up, but I think this book was more about the journey than the ‘ending’ as such. If you like things neatly tied up at the end though, this might bother you.
Overall; a coming-of-age story about dealing with grief.
7 out of 10.