The Last True Poets of the Sea

by Julia Drake

Violet is spending the summer with her Uncle Toby in Lyric, Maine, following her... read more

Violet is spending the summer with her Uncle Toby in Lyric, Maine, following her younger brother Sam’s suicide attempt. She and Sam, who’s lived with mental health issues much of his life, used to be close, and Violet’s guilt leaves her almost mute every time she tries to write him. In Lyric, Violet gets to know Orion, whose best friend Liz is a local history buff. Lyric’s origin story revolves around Violet’s great great great grandparents, Fidelia and Ransome, who fell in love following a shipwreck in which Fidelia was the sole survivor. Liz suspects there’s more than is known to their tale and Violet agrees to search for information in her uncle’s house. Violet discovers letters from Fidelia making clear Violet and Sam aren’t the first in their family to deal with depression, and Fidelia’s forthright acknowledgment of the struggle is reassuring. There are also old photos showing Fidelia dressed in men’s clothing. Violet shares some of what she finds with Liz while also trying to determine, at Orion’s request, if Liz’s feelings for Orion mirror his for her, a task made more difficult by Violet’s attraction to both of them, feelings she senses are mutual. A nuanced story that recasts Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night features characters who are deeply complicated, and incredibly kind and tender as they struggle to be honest with themselves and one another. Violet, who is white, is a magnetizing force at story’s center. (Age 13 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2020

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