Review: Start Here by Trish Doller

Start Here by Trish Doller shows a pile of polaroid photos of a sailing trip and one of two girls.

Start Here
Trish Doller
Simon Pulse
Published August 13, 2019

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Goodreads

About Start Here

Two teens go on a life-changing sailing trip as they deal with the grief of losing their best friend in this heartwrenching, hopeful novel from the author of Something Like Normal and In a Perfect World.

Willa and Taylor were supposed to spend the summer after high school sailing from Ohio to Key West with their best friend, Finley. But Finley died before graduation, leaving them with a twenty-five-foot sailboat, a list of clues leading them to destinations along the way, and a friendship that’s hanging by a thread.

Now, Willa and Taylor have two months and two thousand miles to discover how life works without Finley—and to decide if their own friendship is worth saving.

From acclaimed author Trish Doller comes a poignant tale of forgiveness, grief, and the brilliant discoveries we make within ourselves when we least expect it.

Start Here on Goodreads

My Review

You know that feeling you get when you follow an author and read multiple of their books, and then a new one comes out and you feel like it has a special kind of magic the others (while they were great!) didn’t quite have?

I felt that way reading START HERE. The story seemed to come alive as I read it. I connected with the characters immediately. The “trapped on a sailboat with your frenemy to honor your best friend’s dying wish” plot was amazing and unique. I loved all the sailing stuff!

I sobbed with Finley as she made the video for her friends about the journey. Then I sobbed with Taylor and Willa as they grieved through that terrible loss. And, as the girls began to find themselves through the trip and learn to appreciate one another, I cried for how far they’d come.

This is the best kind of book to finish your summer with. It’s full of the kind of hope that only comes from grief transformed. It’s real and moving and full of surprise sweet and funny moments. I loved it. I read an electronic review copy, but I’m definitely ordering a finished copy of the book because I suspect it’s one I’ll return to again.

Start Here on Amazon

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

Willa isn’t sure of her ancestry. She has brown skin and curly hair. Taylor is white and bisexual.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between boy and girl. At one point, one couple are discovered in bed together partly clothed. Kissing between two girls.

There are also a couple of sexual references, like a boy making comments about his physical desire for sex. Ultimately, I thought it was cool the way the author juxtaposed this boy’s behavior (which left a girl feeling a lot of internal pressure) and a different boy’s behavior(which left her feeling protected and cared for).

Spiritual Content
Some references to magic, as in that sort of serendipitous thing that happens where you end up finding exactly what you need when you need it. Both girls express some anger at God for Finley’s death as a part of their grief.

Violent Content
Both girls face situations where men make unwanted, insistent advances. They handle the situation, but it’s still obviously stressful and scary.

Drug Content
Willa and Taylor use fake IDs to get into a bar and drink alcohol. They attend a college party where there’s lots of drinking. They drink alcohol legally outside the US.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support the costs of running this blog. I received a free copy of START HERE in exchange for my honest review.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

2 Responses to Review: Start Here by Trish Doller

  1. Colleen Phillips says:

    OMG, this sounds like a wonderful read. Unfortunately I can’t get it digitally from either of the libraries where I have a card. Guess I will just have to wait until I go back to the U.S. Thanks for this great review!!