ARC Review: Start Here by Trish Doller

Title: Start Here
Author: Trish Doller
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Hardcover, 352 Pages
Publication Date: August 13th, 2019

Summary: Willa and Taylor were supposed to spend the summer after high school sailing from Ohio to Key West with their best friend, Finley. But Finley died before graduation, leaving them with a twenty-five-foot sailboat, a list of clues leading them to destinations along the way, and a friendship that’s hanging by a thread. Now, Willa and Taylor have two months and two thousand miles to discover how life works without Finley—and to decide if their own friendship is worth saving.

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, and as soon as I opened the package, I was really excited. First of all, the cover is absolutely gorgeous -- I took so many pictures for Instagram because I loved the font, the colors, the Polaroid pictures...everything about it! *major heart eyes* And then once I sat down on the beach with this book and started reading it, I found myself sucked into the story of Willa and Taylor's epic adventure. I finished this entire book (over 340 pages!!) in 24 hours because I couldn't make myself stop reading. So without further ado, let's get into my review!

As the summary explains, Willa and Taylor are still mourning the loss of Finley, their best friend who died from cancer. Before she passed, Finley had made grand plans with them to sail from Ohio to Florida in a boat that they bought and worked on together -- but now that she's gone, it's only Willa and Taylor that have to make the journey. Which isn't easy, since Finley was the one bond they had between them. And because they're still grieving and confused. So the girls set off on this rocky journey, trying both to survive the trip and also to survive each other, not sure if their friendship can be salvaged in the wake of Finley's death.

I definitely enjoyed reading this book. Seeing the sailing adventures that Willa and Taylor encountered made me start itching to go on my own adventure, even though I've never been a sailor and I definitely wouldn't know how to get a boat from Ohio to Florida the way Willa and Taylor did, LOL. I loved all of the spontaneous things that came with this trip, such as last-minute hotels, concerts, new friends, daring stunts, and everything in between. If you have a serious case of wanderlust, then this is definitely the kind of book for you.

Something else that I really enjoyed about this book was the way that it highlighted how the friendship between Willa and Taylor was rocky, turbulent, and definitely not perfect. It doesn't hide behind the facade of everything being okay -- these girls are grieving, they're hurt, they're angry, and they also believe that Finley was the glue holding them together, and they aren't meant to be friends without her. This book doesn't cover up that grief and make them instantly get along. Hell, it doesn't even instantly make the first apologies worthwhile. These girls have a lot to learn, both about the open water and about each other, if they ever want the trip to work. At first, I really wasn't a fan of both of their attitudes, particularly toward each other, but through time I got to learn more about them as characters and I found it much easier to crawl into their headspace.

There was only one thing that I wasn't super crazy about with this book, and it's the fact that the story is told entirely in third person. This isn't usually a huge deal for me, but the fact that the chapters kept switching perspectives between Willa and Taylor, but still was in the third person, left me confused a lot of the time. I had to keep going back to reread and orient myself on what was going on. I have no issues with third person in and of itself, but when a story is being told in dual-perspective chapters, I felt that that was where I started to get pretty confused. It's just one small writing choice, and my opinion is in no way the be-all-end-all, but I just found myself really confused a lot of the time.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Start Here. It was a quick, adventurous read that sucked me into Willa and Taylor's story, and the book had so many ups and downs that I kept wanting to turn the page to find out what was going to happen next. This is the perfect beachy summer read for me -- I sank my toes into the sand and got lost at sea with Willa and Taylor! I'm incredibly grateful that Simon Pulse was kind enough to read out and send me a review copy, because it helped me find another fascinating story. I'd recommend checking this one out!

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