phantom limbs // paula garner

published: 2016 // Candlewick Press
pages: 352
isbn: 978-0-7636-8205-7
read from: 10/6-12/2016
(technically, i opened the book on the 6th and read about 6 pages. then i picked it back up on the 11th and devoured the thing in 1 day...sooo....ill be honest about it but ill let you be the judge. i have issues. i know.) 
rating: 1) didn't care for it 2) liked it 3) LOVED IT


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.


i will try to go in chronological order because you already know i jump all over the place. 

anyway, Otis gets an email from Meg saying that she is in fact coming back to town after leaving 3 years prior without any notice. 

by this time, Dara has picked up the pieces and kicked his ass into hopefully making it into the Olympics. Oh! and Dara, love her ass, hot mess of a woman Dara, is an amputee, shark attack. 
anyway countdown to Megs arrival begins and this is where i leave the chronological train and just tell it all. 

Meg left after Mason's death because it was too much for her to bear. 
he passed away in her room. 
he choked on an old Easter that he found in her room. 
this completely fucks her up. I'm talking her having PTSD, is in therapy and shes trying to ruin herself for Otis. (drugs, alcohol, random sex (just once) kind of messed up.) 

so what does she have? 
she cant stand chocolate. the smell or even sight of it. why? because when she sees it or smells it, shes transported back to his death. 
she cant stand screaming anything, children, adults, anything because she is then transported back to that night and she remembers all the yelling and screaming that Otis' mother did. 
if she freaks out, she cleans windows.
because Mason was in her room when he passed away. 
and it overlooks the backyard.
he had chocolate all over his hands and he smeared it all over the window trying to get someones attention to rescue him. so her coping mechanism is to spot clean windows when shes freaking out. 
it was just a shitty situation. 
and it sucks because throughout the book, you get the feeling that it happened under her care or something. that she was at fault but that was never the case. it was just a freak accident.

so she asks her parents to move (she asks her dad for a transfer. he's a teacher...i think) because she cant bear to be there at all. 
they move to California and they lose contact. well, she cuts him off.
they all used to be best friends. 
them and their parents and after Mason's death, everyone is broken. 
her parents leave to CA and his mother no longer talks to her mother and she's a hot alcoholic mess. her parents are going through a divorce. 
a shitty thing happened to Otis' family but its Megs family that ends up all torn up.

the reason she comes back is because her therapist tells her that its time to face her fears. that it wasn't her fault and she needs to see that. 
so she goes back but at the end of it all, she decides to leave back to California. 
she doesn't want to remember Mason anymore at all and she cant ask Otis to forget his brother so that's where they stay; broken. (But I also loved that even though Otis LOVES Meg, he tells her straight out that he will never give up memory of his brother for her.)

That is, until she realizes that no matter where she goes she will never forget Mason so she asks for Otis' forgiveness and i like to think that at the end it all works out. 

Dara! i loved her. 
she had this kick ass attitude but then you realize that shes just as broken with her own set of shit. 
and another perfect example of how Otis had someone be there for him but he didn't quite realize how he needed to be there for them as well. 

right from the get go, you know she's missing her arm. 
as far as i know, it was a shark accident. 
what i learned later was that she knew it was a possibility but she still went swimming anyway.
and what i learned later (she was a VERY closed character. kept to herself) was that a) her dad basically disowned her because she honestly had true potential to make it to the Olympics for swimming and she threw all of that out the window.
i also learned that her mother was this accomplished ballerina who ended up committing suicide after her birth. 

you don't really know how fucked up in the everything she is til her accident. 
she's drinking and gets in an accident. and to the end, Otis still doesn't know if it was an accident or on purpose. 
so that happens and she gets better. 
then Abby comes along and makes her happy. they're this happy couple til, i guess you can call it a freak out. Dara tells her she will move with her to Colorado and when Abby tells her to chill, that she likes her but not like wife me up right now likes her, it sends her into another suicide spin. 

at this point, Otis is in Michigan with Meg and their parents when he gets a call from Abby. he freaks out, leaves (3 hrs away) just to find her in time. 

at the end of it all, she gets the help that she needs. 
she gets therapy and treatment for her pain and her relationship with her dad. 

i love that they give her a good ending. 
i love that even though she was falling to pieces, she rescues Otis. 
but i love even more that Otis saves her as well. 
and that he even states that he's bound to her. 
she's a part of him and he will always be there for her. 
(cue the waterworks.)

as for Otis, i mean what can i say. i feel like i just wrote this blog post and turned it into a short story. 
hes kind of described through it all. 

just thoughts on the book itself

i saw this book was on Meredith's to be read so i jumped wagon. then i went to the library, saw it from the corner of my eye, snatched it up and devoured it in one day (I'm talking 24 hr cycle. i have issues. i know.) (also, sorry to the people who have a hold on it cause i just straight jumped the line and jacked your spot.) 

anyway, i LOVE this book!!!!
once i got into it, i couldn't put it down. 
i stayed up til about 2 in the morning and made it to 200+ pages. 
i love everything about this book. 
i love the size of it (not too big or bulky to carry around.) 
i love the font they used. (basic book font but still!)
i love how the pages look with the font and how beautifully centered it all was in every single page. (I've never noticed that before in a book. like it never jumped at me to notice that.) 

i liked this book enough to give it 2 stars but it wasn't until the end that i was like 3 stars! 5 stars! heck, 10!!!
i loved love looooved it.  (also, i just realized that up until this point, all I've been talking about is bullshit so lets get to it.) 

i loved that this book was from a guys point of view. for the most part with YA i already know the premise of the book; 2 kids in love and they have to overcome all obstacles. but i still love reading their stories.
i have read a lot of that and its usually always the same but i love when i read YA from a dude's point of view. i felt Otis wasn't as dramatic as it could have been from a girls point of view (hello freaking Lara Jean. damn you 3rd book) given his circumstances.

you know from the get go that its based on dealing with the death of his little brother but also losing Meg. 
I love that Dara was there to pick him up (and put his ass in shape) only to have it come full circle. 
i love that at the end of it all, he "chooses" Dara when he could have had something with Meg happen. (not even a spoiler. ...but page 327, that damn paragraph got me right in all of the feels. the fact that he "picks" Dara over her. ahhh!!!!)
i love that one way or another, everyone sort of rescues each other in this book. i don't even know how to explain it. 
i love that you want it to go a certain way and then it doesn't and then twist! 
the last few pages i was laughing, screaming and crying. 
it was the best. 

I'm surprised that i caught early on about how Mason passes away. 
it was kind of a dead give away (super sorry for that pun but it was unintended.) 
what i wasn't expecting was everything else that happened to Meg. i was unaware of how much it affected her. i know Otis lost his brother but holy shit, it fucked Meg up. i guess that's what happens when one is there to witness it all and the other isn't.

i think its beautifully written in the sense that the author shows you both sides of the pain of losing someone. 
Otis is hurting because of his brother and then Meg.
but he never stopped to think about how she was feeling trying to carry her burden and still be there for him. 
it was amazing to see him come to his senses about all of this 3 years later. 
not only about her but also about his mother. 
oh his mother!
there's another broken character. 
i also loved that he does a comparison to the past where he was mad at his mom for not paying attention to what was going on and just staring at her child. 
the fact that he wishes he could go back and give her all of that and apologize for trying to taker her out of that moment was just, ahh!!!

i just love how Otis develops into a teenager. 
i love how he was written in this. 
i love that he finally sees everything from other point of views and he understands better. 
i just loved everything about this. 
i felt like at times, i was understanding things about my life by just reading this. 
life lesson teaching/learning books are the best. 

I'm going to freaking miss Otis. 

as always, quotes, quotes, QUOTES!!!!!!

"i also hoped Meg had another kind of GPS. one that would navigate her back to me."
-Otis. pg 29

"it was like missing your exit on the highway. its done. there's no turning back. you're on a new route."
-Otis pg 57

"here's the truth about healing. its a fucking myth - an idea they try to sell you on to keep you from killing yourself. you love someone and they leave, but they never entirely go away. you feel them there, acutely, like an amputated limb." 
-Otis pg 68

"its funny how even the most un-religious person will turn to prayer when the chips are down. as Dara bled onto my shirt, i pleaded with the Great Whomever to let her be okay."
-Otis pg 193

"that's different. you didn't exist for me yet. everything changed after that. there was life before you, and then life with you. there wasn't supposed to be life after you."
-Otis pg 310

"But damaged doesn't necessarily mean broken.....but broken necessarily means damaged." 
-Otis pg 351
i know i gave you spoilers but trust me, as always, i still left a lot out and well, still, read the freaking book. 
if you don't like it, ill buy ya donuts. 
unless you don't like YA. then that's just cheating. 

thanks for reading my little baby short story of a post. lol 
have a great weekend! 

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