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The Unsinkable Greta James

The Unsinkable Greta James

by Jennifer E. Smith

Hardcover

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Overview

Notes From Your Bookseller

Sometimes a book comes along at the right time, and that’s what Greta was for me. I laughed and cried while reading this book, and now I’m ready to plan my own Alaskan cruise—and I always swore I’d NEVER go on a cruise. Pick up this book and I know you’ll enjoy your time on this ship (not a boat).

An indie musician reeling from tragedy and a public breakdown reconnects with her father on a weeklong cruise in “a pitch-perfect story about the ways we recover love in the strangest places” (Rebecca Serle, bestselling author of In Five Years)

“The characters are drawn with a generosity that allows them to be wrong but also right, loving but also prone to missteps, and ultimately deserving of a resolution that’s full of hope.”—Linda Holmes, New York Times bestselling author of Evvie Drake Starts Over


ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2022—BookPage

Right after the sudden death of her mother—her first and most devoted fan—and just before the launch of her high-stakes sophomore album, Greta James falls apart on stage. The footage quickly goes viral and she stops playing, her career suddenly in jeopardy—the kind of jeopardy her father, Conrad, has always predicted; the kind he warned her about when he urged her to make more practical choices with her life. 
 
Months later, Greta—still heartbroken and very much adrift—reluctantly agrees to accompany Conrad on the Alaskan cruise her parents had booked to celebrate their fortieth anniversary. It could be their last chance to heal old wounds in the wake of shared loss. But the trip will also prove to be a voyage of discovery for them both, and for Ben Wilder, a charming historian, onboard to lecture about The Call of the Wild, who is struggling with a major upheaval in his own life. As Greta works to build back her confidence and Ben confronts an uncertain future, they find themselves drawn to and relying on each other.

It’s here in this unlikeliest of places—at sea, far from the packed city venues where she usually plays and surrounded by the stunning scenery of Alaska—Greta will finally confront the choices she’s made, the heartbreak she’s suffered, and the family hurts that run deep. In the end, she’ll have to decide what her path forward might look like—and how to find her voice again.


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780593358276
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/01/2022
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 22,521
Product dimensions: 9.40(w) x 6.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Jennifer E. Smith is the author of nine books for young adults, including The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight and Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between, both of which have been adapted for film. She earned a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and her work has been translated into thirty-three languages. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Greta is standing at the window of a hotel in West Hollywood when her brother calls for the third time that day. Across the street, there’s a billboard with a sleek white yacht surrounded by turquoise water, an ad for a new kind of beer, and something about it—that feeling of being adrift—makes it easier to say no when she finally picks up the phone.

“Come on,” Asher says. “It’s only a week.”

“A week on a boat.”

“It’s a ship,” he corrects.

“It’s the last thing I need right now,” Greta says, turning from the window, where the light outside is dreamy and pink. She’s just come from a photo shoot for the cover of her second album, which has been pushed to July. If it were up to Greta, she would’ve moved it back even further, but apparently, that’s no longer an option. Instead, she’d been summoned to Los Angeles to spend three days in a warehouse surrounded by flashing cameras and frowning studio execs in suits and sneakers, the pressure to get this right all over their faces.

It’s been two months since she last performed live—not since the week after her mother died, when she fell apart onstage—but everything else has continued to march ahead, the business part of things still grinding forward mostly without her.

On the desk, next to the hotel stationery, there’s a plate of chocolates with a note from the hotel manager that says, We’re so happy you’re with us. Automatically, Greta thinks of her mom, who no longer is, whose absence feels so breathtakingly final that even this is enough to make her heart drop.

“Why don’t you go?” she says to Asher, trying to imagine spending all that time on a boat with her dad. The Alaskan cruise had been her mother’s idea. It was all she talked about for nearly a year, right up until March, when an artery ruptured in her head and the whole world seemed to stop.

Now it’s only a month away. And her dad is still planning to go.

“We can’t let him do this alone,” Asher says, ignoring her question. “It’s too sad.”

“He’ll hardly be alone,” Greta says as she wanders into the bathroom. “He’ll have the Fosters and the Blooms. They’ll take care of him.”

She stares at her reflection in the mirror, her face still made up from the shoot. Red lips, white skin, green eyes lined with charcoal. Her dark hair, usually so wild, is now sleek and tamed. She sets the phone down on the sink and switches to speaker, then twists the tap and begins to scrub it all off.

“He’ll be a fifth wheel,” Asher insists, his voice bouncing around the bathroom. “It’s depressing. One of us has to go with him.”

“Right,” Greta says. “You.”

“I can’t.”

She straightens again. Her skin is now pinkish, but she looks more like herself, which is always a relief. She grabs a towel and pats at her face. “The thing is,” she says, picking up the phone again and walking back out into the room, where she flops onto the bed, “he actually likes you.”

“Greta,” he says, impatient now. “You know I can’t do it.”

She knows this, of course. Asher has a wife and three girls under the age of five. He has a job with a boss and a regular work week, an HR department, and a set number of vacation days, which mostly get used up when the kids are sick. He hasn’t been on a plane in years.

Greta’s already been on three this week.

She sighs. “What are the dates again?”

“End of May, beginning of June.”

“I’ve got to be in the city for Gov Ball on the fifth,” she says, almost indecently relieved to have a legitimate excuse, no matter how much she’s dreading it. But this does nothing to deter Asher.

“Lucky for you,” he says, “it gets back on the fourth.”

“You know this isn’t just any show. It’s important.”

“More important than Dad?”

“That’s not fair.”

“It’s not like I’m asking you to choose,” he says. “You’ll be back in New York in time to do your thing. And I’ve heard Alaska is beautiful this time of year. Still a little cold, maybe, but that was just Dad trying to save some money—”

“Asher?”

“Yeah?”

“I don’t think I can do it.”

“Sure you can. You love the water. Remember that time we took the canoe out on—”

“You know what I mean.”

He goes silent for a moment, then says, “It wouldn’t just be for him, you know.”

And that’s what finally gets her.

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