The Unsinkable Greta James by Jennifer E. Smith
Publication date: 01 March 2022
A study of love and grief, The Unsinkable Greta James is a quiet, beautiful story of a woman trying to find herself again after her world is upended. Greta is an indie rock star who is riding high on the fame she always dreamed of. Then her mother dies suddenly and unexpectedly from an aneurysm, and Greta finds herself unable to sing or play her guitar without breaking down on stage. Her career gets put on hold as she tries to find her way back to her music. She finds herself reluctantly agreeing to accompany her father, Conrad, on the Alaskan cruise that her mother had booked for their 40th anniversary. Conrad has never been a big supporter of Greta’s music career, and this has created some resentment that has been festering for a long time. Put them both together on a boat (sorry, a ship) and you know that the long-held hurts are going to bubble to the surface.
Greta’s story was so eloquently written, and I found myself highlighting whole paragraphs as I was reading. Jennifer E. Smith’s prose draws the reader in and encourages us to pull up a chair and listen closely as the story unfolds. I teared up quite a bit and found myself full-on crying a couple of times as I connected emotionally to Greta and her strained relationship with her dad.
And yes, there is a love interest for Greta, and he’s sweet and nerdy but he also has his own complicated life back home. I appreciated the way that all played out, although a part of me is still secretly wishing for a sequel. But this book is primarily about the complicated relationship between a father and a daughter, both a bit broken, both mourning the loss of life as it was, both needing each other more than ever but struggling to reach across the chasm between them. It is, quite simply, a beautiful five-star read.
Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Random House for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.