Two teens go on a life-changing sailing trip as they deal with the grief of losing their best friend in this heartwrenching, hopeful novel from the author of Something Like Normal and In a Perfect World.
Willa and Taylor were supposed to spend the summer after high school sailing from Ohio to Key West with their best friend, Finley. But Finley died before graduation, leaving them with a twenty-five-foot sailboat, a list of clues leading them to destinations along the way, and a friendship that’s hanging by a thread.
Now, Willa and Taylor have two months and two thousand miles to discover how life works without Finley—and to decide if their own friendship is worth saving.
From acclaimed author Trish Doller comes a poignant tale of forgiveness, grief, and the brilliant discoveries we make within ourselves when we least expect it.
Soooo goooood! Also soooo saaaad!
♥ I got big The Last Wish of Sasha Cade vibes from this one (if you enjoy ripping your heart out this one is excellent), as both feature a best friend who dies, but leaves a little instruction for her friends to help ease the pain when she’s gone. In Start Here, Finley leaves behind a list of clues, leading them to places she hopes they’ll stop along the way during their sailing trip from Ohio to Key West. The thing is, not only is Finley dead, but Finley was the glue that held their trio together. Without her, Willa and Taylor never did anything on their own. Now that it’s just the two of them all the time, they aren’t sure if they can make it together on a sailboat for two months. Now that it’s just the two of them, they aren’t sure if they even like each other.
♥ After a few missteps, they take off anyway, and it is hardly smooth sailing (HAHA THAT’S A BOAT JOKE GUYS). They start to hit their stride once they get to Niagara Falls, which is also where they meet up with one of Taylor’s older brothers, Cam. Finley had a major crush on him before she died, but he was always more into Willa, who would have never done anything to betray her friend. Once Finley is gone, though…look, all I’m saying is that something happens involving a beer of all things that had me going…
Does Cam turn out to be a dickwad? Does Willa find another hottie along the way? Does Taylor start to accept and explore her bisexuality? WHO KNOWS, READ IT YOURSELF!
♥ The most important relationship in this book is Taylor and Willa, though. They’ve hurt each other in the past, and right now they’re both drowning in so much grief over losing Finley that it’s hard to see past it. Even when they’re getting along okay, one of them usually does something to mess it up again. A lot of this book is about how their relationship evolves, and what it means to be a best friend. What it means to lose a best friend before you even graduate high school.
♥ And okay, I’m not saying Trish wrote this book specifically for me, but I am saying that she referenced Youngstown, Ohio, which I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen in a novel before, and which happens to be where I attended college.
Actual photos of me in college. Say hello to Pete the Penguin, our mascot, on the right.
And look if that wasn’t enough, Trish also makes not one, but two mentions of Put-in-Bay, Ohio, which is this tiny little town on Middle Bass Island in the middle of Lake Erie that my college boyfriend had a family summer house on. I visited once when we were dating and after we broke up I never heard about it ever again. I mean it disappeared so completely that sometimes I wondered if I just made the whole thing up BUT LOOKS LIKE I DIDN’T! (P.S. I just fell down a 2 hour rabbit hole of trying to find said ex online even though he disappeared from all social media immediately after we broke up and was never seen again. This is the third of my exes that ghosted the internet 100% after me, what do I do to these guys?)
Favorite Quotes: “Willa has never believed that heartbreak is a physical phenomenon, but now, as she stands in the place where her head and her heart intersect, the pain is breathtakingly real.”
“Maybe best doesn’t mean forever. Maybe best is the person you get at a time when you need her most and she stays only that long.”