In Savannah Espinoza’s small New Mexico hometown, kids either flee after graduation or they’re trapped there forever. Vanni never planned to get stuck—but that was before her father was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, leaving her and her mother to care for him. Now she doesn’t have much of a plan at all: living at home, working as a performing mermaid at a second-rate water park, distracting herself with one boy after another.
That changes the day she meets Leigh. Disillusioned with small-town life and looking for something greater, Leigh is not a “nice girl.” She is unlike anyone Vanni has met, and a friend when Vanni desperately needs one. Soon enough, Leigh is much more than a friend. But caring about another person threatens the walls Vanni has carefully constructed to protect herself and brings up the big questions she’s hidden from for so long.
Savannah, or “Vanni”, was a girl who knew what she wanted from life. She had a plan to get out of her small town and make a life for herself that wouldn’t have her coming back to her hometown in a few years like most people who left. Her plans were derailed when her father got sick and she pushed away her friends, not wanting their presence to remind her of the future she thought was now out of her reach. When she met a new boy and his sister, she began to rediscover herself. She ended up with a new job and new feelings.
I loved the relationship between Vanni and Leigh. Both girls were searching for something and found it in each other. Both of them needed the other in different ways and I loved that their relationship wasn’t perfect in terms of no bumps in the road, but it was meaningful and great to read.
I really enjoyed the strong sense of family and community that flowed through the book as well. It was a huge part of who Vanni was and a huge part of her growth arc as she had to figure out where she fit into the world and her future. It made for a very character-driven plot and a much deeper book than I was anticipating. In a good way.