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This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner
Published by Candlewick Press on September 13, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, LGBT
Buy on Amazon
(Last Updated On: January 17, 2022)
How do you move on from an irreplaceable loss? In a poignant debut, a sixteen-year-old boy must learn to swim against an undercurrent of grief—or be swept away by it.
Otis and Meg were inseparable until her family abruptly moved away after the terrible accident that left Otis’s little brother dead and both of their families changed forever. Since then, it’s been three years of radio silence, during which time Otis has become the unlikely protégé of eighteen-year-old Dara—part drill sergeant, part friend—who’s hell-bent on transforming Otis into the Olympic swimmer she can no longer be.
But when Otis learns that Meg is coming back to town, he must face some difficult truths about the girl he’s never forgotten and the brother he’s never stopped grieving. As it becomes achingly clear that he and Meg are not the same people they were, Otis must decide what to hold on to and what to leave behind. Quietly affecting, this compulsively readable debut novel captures all the confusion, heartbreak, and fragile hope of three teens struggling to accept profound absences in their lives.
Before I begin my review, I just have to comment on that cover. Of course, it’s different than the placeholder one that was on my ARC copy, but I honestly want to buy a hardcover copy now because it’s so beautiful.
Though this novel was a contemporary, I loved that there was a sort of mysterious vibe that came off through the chapters. There’s the mystery as to why Meg’s family left, why Meg’s family split up, why Meg never talked to Otis until she returned many years later, what happened to Dara’s arm, and what happened to Otis’s brother. Yes, that seems like a lot of things to be curious about, but I loved waiting to find out the answers.
I really liked how driven Otis was when it came to his swimming. I love doing sports, so I really liked how even though Otis thought that he’d never make it to the Olympics like Dara wanted him to, he went to practice swimming so many times a day.
I liked that there were parts of the story that were texts. I don’t know why, but I love it when book format changes slightly like that, even if it is only for a page or two.
I really loved the depth that all of the characters had. They all seemed very realistic to me, which is great because sometimes characters seem kind of fake in YA. All of these characters had real issues and were doing their best to deal with them, day by day.
Phantom Limbs was such an awesome debut and I can’t wait to read more by Paula Garner in the future.