How do you move on from an irreplaceable loss? In a poignant debut, a sixteen-year-old boy must learn to swim against an undercurrent of grief—or be swept away by it.
Otis and Meg were inseparable until her family abruptly moved away after the terrible accident that left Otis’s little brother dead and both of their families changed forever. Since then, it’s been three years of radio silence, during which time Otis has become the unlikely protégé of eighteen-year-old Dara—part drill sergeant, part friend—who’s hell-bent on transforming Otis into the Olympic swimmer she can no longer be. But when Otis learns that Meg is coming back to town, he must face some difficult truths about the girl he’s never forgotten and the brother he’s never stopped grieving. As it becomes achingly clear that he and Meg are not the same people they were, Otis must decide what to hold on to and what to leave behind. Quietly affecting, this compulsively readable debut novel captures all the confusion, heartbreak, and fragile hope of three teens struggling to accept profound absences in their lives.
Description taken from Goodreads.
If you want a book like Me and Earl and the Dying Girl or Scarlett Epstein Hates it Here, I would recommend this book to you. I found these books to be very crude, if humorous, and they weren’t for me, but I can see their appeal. Phantom Limbs had its heartbreaking moments and its funny bits, and I would recommend it to people who want a lighthearted read that deals with a serious issue.
I loved the concept of this story. It’s reminiscent of Emily Martin’s The Year We Fell Apart except in a guy’s POV, and I enjoyed his relationship with Meg. But one problem I had with it was the plot.
For most of this story, Phantom Limbs is a book about Otis’ relationships with two girls, one of which is his swim coach and other of which is Meg. Not much happens throughout the meat of the plot other than Otis pining after one girl and exploring his relationship with another. This is a love triangle of sorts, but it’s mostly about friendship and grief. If you’re a fan of contemporary romance, then I would recommend Phantom Limbs to you.
I have to note that the tragedy is kept until the end of the book. This makes everything a bit anticlimactic, but it’s not too bad, and it brings awareness about an issue that’s important but not oftentimes talked about.
All in all, if you’re interested in a smart, funny, frank book that can be a tiny bit boring, I would recommend Phantom Limbs to you. If not, you might want to check out The Year We Fell Apart or Elizabeth Eulberg’s Better Off Friends. 2 stars.