The Last True Poets of the Sea Review

The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary: “The Larkin family isn’t just lucky—they persevere. At least that’s what Violet and her younger brother, Sam, were always told. When the Lyric sank off the coast of Maine, their great-great-great-grandmother didn’t drown like the rest of the passengers. No, Fidelia swam to shore, fell in love, and founded Lyric, Maine, the town Violet and Sam returned to every summer.

But wrecks seem to run in the family: Tall, funny, musical Violet can’t stop partying with the wrong people. And, one beautiful summer day, brilliant, sensitive Sam attempts to take his own life.

Shipped back to Lyric while Sam is in treatment, Violet is haunted by her family’s missing piece—the lost shipwreck she and Sam dreamed of discovering when they were children. Desperate to make amends, Violet embarks on a wildly ambitious mission: locate the Lyric, lain hidden in a watery grave for over a century.

She finds a fellow wreck hunter in Liv Stone, an amateur local historian whose sparkling intelligence and guarded gray eyes make Violet ache in an exhilarating new way. Whether or not they find the Lyric, the journey Violet takes—and the bridges she builds along the way—may be the start of something like survival” (Goodreads).

I am so grateful to have received an E-ARC via Netgalley. I may be reviewing it after the publication date, but I am nonetheless so honored to have been able to receive a copy.

There’s something so wonderful about this book that’s difficult to put into words. Julia Drake is a debut author, yet this book seems like one produced by a weathered author. It reads so personally, like Violet is telling this story after the fact really, not like it’s someone dictating her story for her.

I’ll be honest, stories where a girl who does something stupid and is sent to live with her estranged relative in some beach town is a concept that is both tired and tedious to me. However, this flips most of the tropes expected of this story on its head. The boy she meets so suddenly and “cutely”? Not her love-interest. The uncle she’s estranged from? Not so difficult for her to get to know. The family who sent her away? Not so unsympathetic.

I felt so much for Violet, even if I have never been anywhere near her shoes. She is grappling with her brother’s suicide attempt by not speaking with him and by pushing her family away. She is grappling with her own irresponsible behavior (yet the narrative never shames her for being relatively promiscuous the year prior) and embarrassment. She is faced with her own demons and comes out stronger and I just love her so much. She reads so realistically, like she could walk up to me right now and ask me if I loved her story. (I did.)

The side characters have so much depth, but the focus is on Liv and Orion. Liv’s family situation was delicately handled. Orion’s heartbreak was palpable. I wanted to wrap them both up in my arms and hold them.

Violet’s brother, while I cannot speak for the mental illness representation, was beautifully written. And her love for him so wonderful, even if mostly unsaid.

I love that Drake showed so much more than told us this story. There were wonderful poignant lines that told so much more than if we had been spoon-fed the important details. I just…I love her writing. I will probably read everything she writes in the future just because of this.

This isn’t a happy story. While it has happy bits, it’s a heavy novel about a family falling apart (and coming back together) because of a suicide attempt and mental health problems. It’s about finding yourself and your family, but coming to terms with the fact that searching for answers won’t always solve your problems; the past will always stay past.

I hope everyone reading this decides to pick up this novel. You will not regret it, I don’t believe.

-Book Hugger

I received an E-ARC of this book from Disney Hyperion via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way impacted my review or rating of this novel. 

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