The Last True Poets of the Sea is one of those books where I knew I would love it before opening. A sapphic Twelfth Night inspired book?! But what I didn’t expect was how swept away I would be by this emotional and introspective book.
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.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Edelweiss. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
TW: depression, anxiety, panic attacks, OCD, suicide attempt of a family member
I immediately fell in love with Violet. While I initially fell in love with how quirky, how dramatic she was, I ended up being most moved by her depth, her introspective-ness, and her raw honesty. The Last True Poets of the Sea is a book about recovery, forgiveness, family, and love. About those moments where it’s easier to let go, to disappear, and finding the strength to swim to the surface.
I felt a kinship to Violet. The way she feels like she played a role, her life moving out of control and away from her. There’s this one scene where she gives the role she plays a name, Fun. And how Fun exists both as a noun, a person she pretends to be, but also a character trait. It’s such stunning writing that is both emotional and heart breaking, but while being so relatable. Her desire to be less, to shrink in on herself, struggling with the immense guilt and anger at herself.
It’s that moment of feeling like you life existed in two phases – before and after. Two pieces of yourself existing on each side, somehow similar, but vastly different. Two sides of an ocean, connected by the tug of the water, but miles stretching between them – an ocean of loss and heartbreak. She’s wonderfully smart, clever, and wry. Violet struggles not only with changing her own behavior and coping mechanisms, but being vulnerable and open to new relationships.
Violet is bisexual, another character questions their sexuality, and a side character is gay. The representation is heartfelt, it never feels forced, and seamlessly is interwoven into the story. I could go on about how much I loved Violet – how there are some scenes where she speaks directly to my own heart.
The Last True Poets of the Sea is about more than just Violet. It’s about our daily decisions. The choice to try, to swim against the current that fights to tug us under. That whispers to give up, to become invisible, to deny pieces of ourselves. The Last True Poets of the Sea celebrates friendship without strings, family which supports you and makes mistakes, and love which thrills you to the tips of your fingers. All in the background of a truly lovely beachside town, our quest to discover the truth, that others would rather leave hidden, and with plenty of shipwrecks.