Cover image for The last true poets of the sea
The last true poets of the sea
1st ed.
Physical Description:
391 pages ; 22 cm.
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The Larkin family isn't just lucky-they persevere. At least that's what Violet and her younger brother, Sam, were always told. When the Lyric sank off the coast of Maine, their great-great-great-grandmother didn't drown like the rest of the passengers. No, Fidelia swam to shore, fell in love, and founded Lyric, Maine, the town Violet and Sam returned to every summer. But wrecks seem to run in the family: Tall, funny, musical Violet can't stop partying with the wrong people. And, one beautiful summer day, brilliant, sensitive Sam attempts to take his own life. Shipped back to Lyric while Sam is in treatment, Violet is haunted by her family's missing piece-the lost shipwreck she and Sam dreamed of discovering when they were children. Desperate to make amends, Violet embarks on a wildly ambitious mission: locate the Lyric, lain hidden in a watery grave for over a century. She finds a fellow wreck hunter in Liv Stone, an amateur local historian whose sparkling intelligence and guarded gray eyes make Violet ache in an exhilarating new way. Whether or not they find the Lyric, the journey Violet takes-and the bridges she builds along the way-may be the start of something like survival. Epic, funny, and sweepingly romantic, The Last True Poets of the Sea is an astonishing debut about the strength it takes to swim up from a wreck. -- Provided by publisher.


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Wrecks seem to run in the Larkin family: Tall, funny, musical Violet can't stop partying with the wrong people, and her brilliant, sensitive younger brother Sam attempts to take his own life. Shipped back to their family's hometown while Sam is in treatment, Violet is haunted by her family's missing piece - the lost shipwreck she and Sam dreamed of discovering when they were children. There she discovers something new about herself when she meets fellow wreck hunter Liv, and learns what it takes to swim up from disaster. Epic, funny, and sweepingly romantic, The Last True Poets of the Sea is an astonishing debut.

Author Notes

Julia Drake grew up outside Philadelphia. As a teenager, she played some of Shakespeare s best heroines in her high school theater program, and their stories would stay with her forever. She received her BA in Spanish from Williams College, and her MFA in creative writing from Columbia University, where she also taught writing to first-year students. She currently works as a book coach for aspiring writers and teaches creative writing classes for Writopia, a nonprofit that fosters love of writing in young adults. She lives in San Francisco with her partner and their rescue rabbit, Ned.

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 8 Up--Violet is an out-of-control NYC teen who is shipped off to her mother's hometown in coastal Maine after her younger brother attempts suicide and her parents try to get a handle on both of their children's problems. While living with her uncle, Violet is forced to volunteer at the aquarium in town. While there, she makes friends with some of the local teens and begins to research her family's origins, with help from her new friends Orion and Liv. Supposedly her great-great-grandmother survived a shipwreck and was a founder of the community. Violet's search for answers about her mysterious ancestor mirrors some of the journey she and her brother Sam are on. Debut author Drake has created an authentic and romantic tale, loosely based on Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, that shows that life can be embraced again even after enduring a tragedy. Teen sexuality is respectfully addressed with a frankness that is welcomed. The realities of questioning yourself and the deep emotions that go with falling in love are ably displayed with the burgeoning relationship between Violet and Liv. Sibling bonds and the importance of family also balance out this narrative about battling grief and building bridges to a better tomorrow. VERDICT This contemporary romance has relatable characters on journeys of self-discovery and healing. A must-buy for all YA collections.--Nancy McKay, Ella Johnson Memorial Library, Hampshire, IL

Publisher's Weekly Review

In a strong debut loosely based on Twelfth Night, 16-year-old Violet's family splinters after her brother Sam's suicide attempt. Their parents enter counseling at home in New York City, Sam heads to Vermont for treatment, and party girl Violet is exiled to Lyric, Maine, where her family used to spend their summers. Living quietly with her uncle Toby and volunteering at the local aquarium, Violet reflects on her childhood with her brother, makes new friends through coworker Orion, and gains interest in the history of her great-great-great-grandparents, the town's much-celebrated founders. Against the evocative backdrop of rugged coastal Maine, Drake's suspenseful novel offers three strands of high drama: the impact of Sam's mental illness on Violet, Violet's family history (her grandmother, the lone survivor of a shipwreck, posed as a boy while working for her future husband), and a complicated love triangle between Violet, Orion, and Orion's friend Liv, who has a special interest in Violet's ancestors. The story of her grandmother's transformation creates intriguing parallels with the internal changes Violet undergoes. If at times the novel seems crowded, Violet emerges as a genuine, sympathetic protagonist struggling to create something new from the wreckage of her life. Ages 14--up. Agent: Peter Knapp, Park Literary & Media.(Oct.)

Kirkus Review

Sixteen-year-old Violet is shuffled off to stay with her uncle in coastal Maine after her brother, Sam, tries to kill himself.The near mythic family lore of Violet's mother, whose great-great-great-grandparents founded the fictional town of Lyric, is the thread that weaves together a host of interesting characters in this witty, surprising novel as it explores grief, mental illness, and both family and romantic dynamics. After a wild year of drinking and impersonal sex that ultimately results in Violet's suspension from school for smoking weed near campus, she arrives in Lyric with a freshly shaven head and a vow to keep to herself. Though she cares about her kind uncle, Toby, Violet's avoidance of her painful and difficult emotions means that she holds him at arm's length and speaks little to her parents back in New York City or her brother, who is at a treatment center in Vermont. Slowly, through the relationships she develops with her similarly musically talented co-worker Orion and his tightknit, eccentric group, Liv, Mariah, and Felix, Violet begins to contend with her own anxiety and her near paralyzing fear about her brother's illness. Most of the characters are white; Mariah is Indian American, and several are queer.A warm, wise, strange meditation on developing the strength to be vulnerable. (Fiction. 14-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

When her younger brother Sam always delicate, always different is hospitalized after a suicide attempt, Violet Larkin reacts by hitting on a man in the waiting room. This last year, her partying has gotten out of control, and bewildered by their fragile son and wild daughter, her parents send her to Lyric, Maine, to stay with her mother's brother Toby. But Violet's family has deep roots in Lyric. Legend has it that the town was founded by Violet's great-great-great-grandmother Fidelia, the only passenger aboard the Lyric to survive a shipwreck, and her descendants have disaster in their blood though Violet shaves off her wild hair and dons her dad's jeans, she can't avoid that. But as she digs into her family's history in Lyric, she becomes involved with a local group of teens, including Orion, whose musical soul speaks to Violet's in ways she'd rather forget, and Liv, the girl he loves the girl who's obsessed with the history of Lyric and its infamous shipwreck; the girl who Violet's starting to let herself get close to despite everything. Wry, quick-witted, and filled with deep grief and fathomless joy in equal measure, this is a triumphant debut. Echoes of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and the barest touches of magical realism give shape to the story, which precisely and profoundly maps the ebbs and flows of surviving through trauma.--Maggie Reagan Copyright 2010 Booklist