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The Sea of Tranquility

The Sea of Tranquility

A Novel

  • reading group guide
  • customer reviews
A School Library Journal Best Book of 2013
An ALA/YALSA Alex Award Winner


I live in a world without magic or miracles. A place where there are no clairvoyants or shapeshifters, no angels or superhuman boys to save you. A place where people die and music disintegrates and things suck. I am pressed so hard against the earth by the weight of reality that some days I wonder how I am still able to lift my feet to walk.

Two and a half years after an unspeakable tragedy left her a shadow of the girl she once was, Nastya Kashnikov moves to a new town determined to keep her dark past hidden and hold everyone at a distance. But her plans only last so long before she finds herself inexplicably drawn to the one person as isolated as herself: Josh Bennett.

Josh’s story is no secret. Every person he loves has been taken from his life until, at seventeen years old, there is no one left. When your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space. Everyone except Nastya who won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. But as the undeniable pull between them intensifies, he starts to wonder if he will ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding—or if he even wants to.

The Sea of Tranquility is a rich, intense, and brilliantly imagined story about a lonely boy, an emotionally fragile girl, and the mira­cle of second chances.
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  • Atria Books | 
  • 448 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781476730943 | 
  • June 2013
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Read an Excerpt

The Sea of Tranquility Chapter 1 Nastya
Dying really isn’t so bad after you’ve done it once.

And I have.

I’m not afraid of death anymore.

I’m afraid of everything else.

* *

August in Florida means three things: heat, oppressive humidity, and school. School. I haven’t been to school in over two years. Not unless you count sitting at the kitchen table being homeschooled by your mom, and I don’t. It’s Friday. My senior year starts on Monday,... see more
The Sea of Tranquility Chapter 2 Josh
Monday, 7:02 AM. Pointless. That’s what today is going to be, along with the 179 school days that come after it. I’d contemplate the waste of it all now if I had the time, but I don’t. I’m gonna be late as it is. I head to the laundry room and yank some clothes out of the still-running dryer. I forgot to turn it on last night, but I don’t have time to wait; so now I’m stuck pulling on a pair of damp jeans while I walk and trying not to trip over... see more
The Sea of Tranquility Chapter 3 Josh
Fourth hour can’t come soon enough. I’m sweating already from sitting out in the sun at lunch, but there won’t be much in the way of air-conditioning in the workshop. When I walk in, I immediately feel at home, even though the space looks entirely different than it did in June. There aren’t tools and pieces of lumber on every surface. No carpet of sawdust covering the floor. No machines running. It’s the quiet that’s initially unnerving.... see more

Hear an Excerpt

Reading Group Guide

These suggested questions for Sea of Tranquility are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.



Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. Various clues are presented to point to the fact that Nastya Kashnikov is not Emilia's real name. What are those clues? Did you pick up on them as you were reading?

2. At the beginning of the novel, Nastya has chosen to return to school. Considering how antisocial she is, why do you think she makes this choice?

3. As the book progresses, we learn how the injuries to Nastya’s hand result in the loss of her ability to play the piano. In what ways does this loss affect her? In what other ways do the injuries to her hand affect her?

4. The themes of art and creation come up in many ways throughout the novel. Which characters are artistic? What role do you think that ability plays in the formation of their identities?

5. At one point Nastya says that she does not want to be dead, she just feels like she should be. Why do you think she feels that way? Do you think her feelings are valid?

6. Nastya explains that she doesn’t dress the way she does because she particularly likes it. Why does she dress this way? What does she hope to accomplish? Is she successful? How do you feel about her see more

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