Review: She Never Told Me About the Ocean

She Never Told Me About the Ocean by Elisabeth Sharp McKetta

Actual Rating: 3.75

Thank you to the author and publisher for a free copy in exchange to an honest review!

In a story about a young woman figuring out her family history, I did not really did not expect there to be so much magic and myth!

She Never Told Me About the Ocean is written from multiple perspectives, the first belonging to eighteen-year-old Sage who discovers that she had an older brother who drowned. As she moves back to Dragon Island where her mother grew up to learn what happened, she discovers that there is much more to the island and the people living there.

The plot for this is just so rich; I honestly didn’t expect this book to hit so hard in its themes about womanhood (and motherhood), overcoming generational fears, and grief, but it did a really beautiful job in weaving these subjects together and for different characters.

Admittedly, it took me a little while to understand what kind of book this was. I had started off expecting something that was a little more linear and concrete in its storytelling, with more of a singular plot around Sage researching her family history. This is not just that story; there’s a lot of backstories and myths that are being weaved together that were a little confusing when I started reading. Once you understand what kind of story this is and suspend a bit of disbelief, it’s easy to let yourself just fall into the story and feel everything.

This was an intensely character-driven story. I’m usually someone who isn’t a fan of the multiple perspectives kind of writing either because I don’t care equally for all points of view or because I start mixing up who’s who. With that being said, I really couldn’t imagine this story being written another way. A lot of this book is important in that it talks not just about what happened, but also about how the characters deal with them mentally and how our bodies react to grief and fear.

The writing style is undoubtedly the best part of this book. Every chapter, every perspective, every line just read like surreal poetry. The different settings where this story took place were really brought to life, especially the ocean which had a voice of its own. It really felt like every word in the book was chosen deliberately — this story couldn’t have taken place anywhere else other than Dragon Island.

Ultimately, She Never Told Me About the Ocean is a story that manages to take heavy emotional themes and weave around them new stories about why we are who we are; this book might not be for those who read more straightforward and action-driven stories, but for those who like fiction that is slower, more intimate, maybe even slice-of-life, this book is a must-read.

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