I absolutely adored this book. Don’t get distracted or misled by this gorgeous cover. It IS a book about summer and sailing and two gorgeous girls. But what it is NOT is fluff. It is NOT the story of friends having an easy, breezy summer filled with boys and silly adventures. It’s the story of two girls, maybe more frenemies than friends, grieving over the death of their shared best friend, fulfilling her dying wish by taking a summer-long sailing trip. The actual sailing is extremely difficult. The tension between Willa and Taylor is taut. The impact of this trip on their lives is unquestionable.
Start Here is a road trip story that takes place on the water. And what a trip it is! I had no idea that sailing from Ohio to the Florida Keys was possible. Apparently, it’s a whole thing. Willa and Taylor are sailing half of “The Great Loop.” According to the National Ocean Service, The Great Loop is “a continuous waterway that recreational mariners can travel that includes part of the Atlantic, Gulf Intracoastal Waterways, the Great Lakes, Canadian Heritage Canals, and the inland rivers of America's heartland. Anyone who completes the journey is then named an official 'Looper.'” Within the first few days of their embarkation, the girls are faced with their first of many, many, many challenges - they must go through over 30 locks to get past Lake Erie and Lake Ontario to get to the Hudson River and then on to the intracoastal waterway of the Atlantic Ocean. Man, I love a book that makes me want to learn something! I spent a good amount of time watching YouTube videos of pleasure boats going through the locks on the Great Lakes. FASCINATING. The video below was my favorite.
Of course, most teens aren’t going to care about all of the details involved in sailing difficult courses. But they will absolutely be interested in Willa and Taylor’s tenuous friendship and their often frightening but equally awesome adventures.