Book Review: Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner

Today's review is for a very special story, Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner. This debut was a beautiful story that surprised and captured me. Read all my thoughts about it here:

Title: Phantom Limbs
Author: Paula Garner
Published: June 1st 2017 by Walker Books

Blurb: 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.

Review: Phantom Limbs is a beautifully written story about grief, about growing up, about moving on (or maybe a little bit about moving on and a little bit about not wanting to move on), but above all, about love. First love, romantic love, friendship love, family love, encompassing love, hurting love, secret love, undesired love... 

It was really easy, since the beginning, to connect with Otis. He narrates the story with such sincerity and humour that I felt like I really got to know him, his secrets, his fears, his goals. And he really had such a good heart. Sometimes I felt like the world was too complicated for him but far from being intimidated, he kept going forward. 

Both his relationships with Meg and Dara were difficult to understand, even for him, but getting to know them, I got to really care for them both and I understood why they were so hard for him sometimes. They made me cry, they made me laugh, they made me feel. These three characters were really well developed and felt completely real. As did the supporting characters too. 

Phantom Limbs is equally heart-breaking as inspiring. It is not a story with a lot of action but it is one with a lot of feelings and one that will stay with me for a long time. Stunning debut, I am already looking forward to Paula Garner's future work.

Rating: 4 stars

I would like to thank the publishers for sending me a copy of this book. This is my honest opinion. 

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