Book Review – Ebb and Flow by Heather Smith

★★★★★ 5 Stars

Genre: Poetry / Realistic Fiction
Publication Date: April 3rd, 2018
Publisher: Kids Can Press

“On the shoreline there was a lion, tame enough to be climbed, wild enough to play with the waves […] I will stay here until I get stranded. The water will get higher and higher and no one will be able to reach me, to save me, and I will deserve it. I will deserve to be stranded on an island all by myself.”

The fortunes of life are much like the waters of the sea, full of malice as often as they are full of kindness, both on different flipsides of the same waves. This Ebb and Flow gently plucks at the heartstrings, enough to stir but not so much to hurt.

Its prosaic soul tells of how a boy, Jett’s, year and most vital friendships are marred by a few bad events and to him the damage looks like it might be beyond repair. A bully for a friend, a criminal father, the loss of a real best friend who feels Jett’s betrayed him, and a mother who has no more patience for him, all culminate in the summer he leaves for his grandma’s house on the seashore.

Jett and Junior’s friendship is really poignant, if poisonous while it lasted. It’s hard to describe other than a “devil’s deal” – they both shared a dark bond that came from having fathers who had done horrible things, and that no one but them understood, but with a friendship like that no matter how genuine it is, comes with some toxic costs. In the fashion of such a deal, they may have gained a friendship for awhile but it loses them so much more and in the end dissolves anyway.

“I never knew the devil could cry.”

Ebb and Flow‘s characterization is nothing short of beautiful – Jett is a truly kind and patient character warped into cruelty by someone who has never known anything but cruelty, and while Jett can’t change that he can change himself to be different.
The relationships between Jett and his grandma, as well as Junior’s mentally disabled uncle, are absolutely heartwarming but carry a powerful tinge of sorrow.
An engaging and haunting story.

Prose – 4.5/5
Story – 4.5/5
Characterization – 5/5
Overall – 5/5

I received a copy of this from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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