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The Unsinkable Greta James
Cover of The Unsinkable Greta James
The Unsinkable Greta James
A Novel
An indie musician reeling from tragedy and a public breakdown reconnects with her father on a weeklong cruise in “a pitch-perfect story about the ways we recover love in the strangest places” (Rebecca Serle, bestselling author of In Five Years)

“The characters are drawn with a generosity that allows them to be wrong but also right, loving but also prone to missteps, and ultimately deserving of a resolution that’s full of hope.”—Linda Holmes, New York Times bestselling author of Evvie Drake Starts Over


ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2022—BookPage

Right after the sudden death of her mother—her first and most devoted fan—and just before the launch of her high-stakes sophomore album, Greta James falls apart on stage. The footage quickly goes viral and she stops playing, her career suddenly in jeopardy—the kind of jeopardy her father, Conrad, has always predicted; the kind he warned her about when he urged her to make more practical choices with her life. 
 
Months later, Greta—still heartbroken and very much adrift—reluctantly agrees to accompany Conrad on the Alaskan cruise her parents had booked to celebrate their fortieth anniversary. It could be their last chance to heal old wounds in the wake of shared loss. But the trip will also prove to be a voyage of discovery for them both, and for Ben Wilder, a charming historian, onboard to lecture about The Call of the Wild, who is struggling with a major upheaval in his own life. As Greta works to build back her confidence and Ben confronts an uncertain future, they find themselves drawn to and relying on each other.

It’s here in this unlikeliest of places—at sea, far from the packed city venues where she usually plays and surrounded by the stunning scenery of Alaska—Greta will finally confront the choices she’s made, the heartbreak she’s suffered, and the family hurts that run deep. In the end, she’ll have to decide what her path forward might look like—and how to find her voice again.
An indie musician reeling from tragedy and a public breakdown reconnects with her father on a weeklong cruise in “a pitch-perfect story about the ways we recover love in the strangest places” (Rebecca Serle, bestselling author of In Five Years)

“The characters are drawn with a generosity that allows them to be wrong but also right, loving but also prone to missteps, and ultimately deserving of a resolution that’s full of hope.”—Linda Holmes, New York Times bestselling author of Evvie Drake Starts Over


ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2022—BookPage

Right after the sudden death of her mother—her first and most devoted fan—and just before the launch of her high-stakes sophomore album, Greta James falls apart on stage. The footage quickly goes viral and she stops playing, her career suddenly in jeopardy—the kind of jeopardy her father, Conrad, has always predicted; the kind he warned her about when he urged her to make more practical choices with her life. 
 
Months later, Greta—still heartbroken and very much adrift—reluctantly agrees to accompany Conrad on the Alaskan cruise her parents had booked to celebrate their fortieth anniversary. It could be their last chance to heal old wounds in the wake of shared loss. But the trip will also prove to be a voyage of discovery for them both, and for Ben Wilder, a charming historian, onboard to lecture about The Call of the Wild, who is struggling with a major upheaval in his own life. As Greta works to build back her confidence and Ben confronts an uncertain future, they find themselves drawn to and relying on each other.

It’s here in this unlikeliest of places—at sea, far from the packed city venues where she usually plays and surrounded by the stunning scenery of Alaska—Greta will finally confront the choices she’s made, the heartbreak she’s suffered, and the family hurts that run deep. In the end, she’ll have to decide what her path forward might look like—and how to find her voice again.
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  • From the cover

    Chapter One

    Greta is standing at the window of a hotel in West Hollywood when her brother calls for the third time that day. Across the street, there’s a billboard with a sleek white yacht surrounded by turquoise water, an ad for a new kind of beer, and something about it—­that feeling of being adrift—­makes it easier to say no when she finally picks up the phone.

    “Come on,” Asher says. “It’s only a week.”

    “A week on a boat.”

    “It’s a ship,” he corrects.

    “It’s the last thing I need right now,” Greta says, turning from the window, where the light outside is dreamy and pink. She’s just come from a photo shoot for the cover of her second album, which has been pushed to July. If it were up to Greta, she would’ve moved it back even further, but apparently, that’s no longer an option. Instead, she’d been summoned to Los Angeles to spend three days in a warehouse surrounded by flashing cameras and frowning studio execs in suits and sneakers, the pressure to get this right all over their faces.

    It’s been two months since she last performed live—­not since the week after her mother died, when she fell apart onstage—­but everything else has continued to march ahead, the business part of things still grinding forward mostly without her.

    On the desk, next to the hotel stationery, there’s a plate of chocolates with a note from the hotel manager that says, We’re so happy you’re with us. Automatically, Greta thinks of her mom, who no longer is, whose absence feels so breathtakingly final that even this is enough to make her heart drop.

    “Why don’t you go?” she says to Asher, trying to imagine spending all that time on a boat with her dad. The Alaskan cruise had been her mother’s idea. It was all she talked about for nearly a year, right up until March, when an artery ruptured in her head and the whole world seemed to stop.

    Now it’s only a month away. And her dad is still planning to go.

    “We can’t let him do this alone,” Asher says, ignoring her question. “It’s too sad.”

    “He’ll hardly be alone,” Greta says as she wanders into the bathroom. “He’ll have the Fosters and the Blooms. They’ll take care of him.”

    She stares at her reflection in the mirror, her face still made up from the shoot. Red lips, white skin, green eyes lined with charcoal. Her dark hair, usually so wild, is now sleek and tamed. She sets the phone down on the sink and switches to speaker, then twists the tap and begins to scrub it all off.

    “He’ll be a fifth wheel,” Asher insists, his voice bouncing around the bathroom. “It’s depressing. One of us has to go with him.”

    “Right,” Greta says. “You.”

    “I can’t.”

    She straightens again. Her skin is now pinkish, but she looks more like herself, which is always a relief. She grabs a towel and pats at her face. “The thing is,” she says, picking up the phone again and walking back out into the room, where she flops onto the bed, “he actually likes you.”

    “Greta,” he says, impatient now. “You know I can’t do it.”

    She knows this, of course. Asher has a wife and three girls under the age of five. He has a job with a boss and a regular work week, an HR department, and a set number of vacation days, which mostly get used up when the kids are sick....

Reviews-
  • Library Journal

    June 1, 2022

    Thirtysomething and newly famous, Greta James has everything going for her. Her music career is taking off, and she has a tour on the horizon. That is, until an emotional performance after the death of her mother leaves her questioning her future as a musician. At the insistence of her brother, Greta joins her father on an Alaskan cruise that will set them on the path to healing both fresh and long-festering wounds and will introduce her to Ben, a charming historian. Along the way, Greta will grow as a person, meet some fans, and, ultimately, decide which path she wants to take in life. This new novel from Smith (Field Notes on Love) will speak to those who first read her YA novels (The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight) as teens but have grown up enough to understand more about the complexities of life and love. Award-winning actor and narrator Mae Whitman brings Greta to life, making her sound both strong and vulnerable. VERDICT A must-have for any new adult romance collection. Will appeal to patrons looking for a novel with depth and well-developed characters.--Elyssa Everling

    Copyright 2022 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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The Unsinkable Greta James
A Novel
Jennifer E. Smith
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