Publisher: Verona Booksellers
Date of Publication: April 21st 2015
Dates Read: December 14th, 2016 – January 4th, 2016
Jay Murchison believes he is a nobody at his high school in Oklahoma. Coming from a conservative family of affordable luxury, Jay has an overwhelming desire to become something great. After a mysterious girl named Saphnie in North Carolina mistakenly texts him, an unlikely relationship develops that affects Jay’s self-perception and influences the rest of his sophomore year. This correspondence leads him to a group of thrill-seekers who provide a grand departure from the quiet life Jay is familiar with and eye-opening experiences to witness first-hand the truth behind the loose morals his fellow classmates have come to know.
In a story filled with injustice, hope, hatred, love, grief, and understanding, readers will ask themselves what it truly means to hear the ocean sigh and learn of the dire consequences that come with its responsibilities.
Note: I received a digital copy of this book from Wes Florentine of Verona Booksellers in exchange for an honest review.
My Rating: ★★★☆☆
Actual rating: 2.5/5 stars.
I’m going to start off by saying that this book was a solid OK.
It’s a decent YA contemporary that mainly focuses on the idea that you will not know everything about everyone, and that you can’t assume things about the people you think you know. Jay Murchison is a naïve, imperfect main character who has been sheltered for much of his life, and learns these lessons in difficult and often embarrassing ways. He definitely goes through some major character development, which I like.
This coming-of-age novel touches upon topics such as what makes a healthy relationship – romantic, familial, and platonic – as well as drug and alcohol use, depression, and suicide. Again, all of this to show the main character that people are complicated, that what they show you may not be the whole picture.
The plot itself is reminiscent of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, while the chapters are months and separated into X number of days before the present, which gave me some major Looking for Alaska vibes. This layout of the chapters worked well for this book because it added some suspense – what was it counting down to? What would happen when the days ran out?
The first half of this book did drag on a little bit, but it really just laid down all the important information and events that would lead to the drama of the second half.
Ultimately, however, To Hear the Ocean Sigh did not stand out to me in any particular way, which is why it’s only getting 2.5 stars. I was pretty meh about the characters; I didn’t love them, but I also didn’t hate most of them. Sometimes the dialogue seemed a little unrealistic, and some of the things they said bugged me. A lot of the descriptions seemed a little unnecessary and either dragged the plot or made me feel really uncomfortable. Oh, and I was a little disappointed with what it ended up counting down to. What I would have considered THE big event happened before the countdown was finished, which made me believe that the actual ending would have been a lot bigger of a surprise or shock.
Maybe I’ve just been reading too many fantasy books, or maybe I’ve read this same plot in so many other coming-of-age novels, but had this story contained more standout aspects that separated it from the rest of the YA contemporary pack, I probably would have liked it a lot more.
Overall: A pretty standard YA contemporary novel; not great, not horrible, just in between.