Friday, September 6, 2019

Book Review: Start Here by Trish Doller

Pages: 352
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: August 13, 2019
Publisher: Simon Pulse 
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: Something Like Normal
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "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.

Finley was the glue that kept Willa and Taylor's friendship together.  Now that Finley is gone (she unfortunately died from cancer), Willa and Taylor's relationship isn't great. In fact, it's downright stressful.  However, one of Finley's last wishes was for the girls to sail the Great Loop, which is the waterway from Ohio to Key West.  That's the perfect adventure before college, right? Except now without Finley, how will Willa and Taylor make it work?  They can't just blow off their plans though because not only did they make a promise to Finley, she also made a list of clues to help them while on their trip.  While on this trip, both girls have to face important issues within their own lives as well as the hardship of facing life without Finley.  Both girls will discover so much about themselves while on this life changing trip in Start Here by Trish Doller.

One thing Doller does well is depict how tumultuous a three person friendship can be, especially when it comes to girls. It's tough at times and I think Doller really captures the ups and downs of this tricky relationship.  Once Finley passes on, they are left with a strained relationship that requires much work on both girls' parts.  Finley's death broke my heart, but I love that she planned this trip for her friends and her memory lives on through their adventure.

Both Willa and Taylor were realistic characters facing issues that many teens face daily in Start Here. Willa had issues with her mother as well as many questions surrounding her future. Which path should she take? Which college should she attend? Did she make the right choice? Willa is also of mixed race, so I liked that she had to face issues surrounding that as well.  Taylor, on the other hand, had issues surrounding her sexuality as well how to move on with her life without Finley. I think Doller depicts this very realistically.  She tackles tough emotions, but does it well.

My favorite aspect of the novel was the trip in Start Here.  Doller describes each port so very well and I loved all their adventures.  If you love a road trip book, you will appreciate the voyage in this novel. The descriptions of the sailing, the anxiety of possible storms, the different ports, and the different people they meet along the way were done memorably.  Overall, I enjoyed the girls' journeys both mentally and physically.

My only issue was that Start Here was a little bit darker than I like for a beach read; nonetheless, I still enjoyed the story. So, if you are looking for a YA read that takes on tough issues all while the characters partake in an unforgettable journey, give Start Here a try. 

Are you a fan of Trish Doller's novels? Do you love a good "road trip" novel? Let me know your thoughts in the comments. 


  1. This sounds so heart-wrenching! It sounds like the author really nailed the complexities of teenage friendships.

    1. She really did...definitely a moving story. I like that Doller's novels are always tackling tough issues. Thanks for visiting, Angela.

  2. The last book of I've read of this author also was heart wrenching, so not even surprised that she hasn't change a thing. I like her writing, though. But maybe a borrow from the library?

    1. I think it's a good one to borrow from the library. It definitely is heart wrenching, but it remains hopeful at the end. Thanks for visiting, Joy!


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