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Review: Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner

Title: Phantom Limbs
Author: Paula Garner
Year Published: 2016

Genre: YA Fiction 
Pages: 352
Rating: 5 out of 5

Location (my 2017 Google Reading map)USA (IL)

FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my school library

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Moving has never been Otis' strong suite. After three years, he's still reeling from the death of his younger brother, Mason, and from the sudden departure of his best friend and first love, Meg, whose family moved across the country after Mason died. Otis would never have survived these last few years without Dara, his ball-busting, one-armed friend and self-appointed swim coach, who is hell-bent on transforming Otis into the Olympic swimmer she can no longer be. Otis, though, is increasingly sure that he'd rather find his own dream than continue chasing Dara's--especially when he learns that, after three years of radio silence, Meg is coming back for the summer. 

All Otis wants is for him and Meg to be as close as they once were (okay, maybe a little closer)--despite Meg's mysterious defection, despite the football player all over her Facebook page, despite Dara's tightening grip and loosening screws. But as they sift through the archaeology of their past and Otis discovers the reasons behind Meg's disappearance, he must face some uneasy truths about his brother's death--and about himself. As he realizes that none of their visions of the perfect future can ever pan out--not Dara's, not Meg's, not his--Otis must decide which dreams to hold on to and which to leave behind.

Review: I was all set to check out a couple other books from one of the local school libraries, but they didn't have them so I picked up this book instead. Oh. My. Goodness. It is so good. I am afraid to pick up my next book because I feel like I am on a streak of YA books that are fabulous.

Phantom limbs. Phantom pain. That feeling, for someone who is missing a limb, where the missing limb hurts even though it isn't there. That's what Dara experiences. Excruciating pain. But the mirror box really helps and so does the presence of Otis, her swim protégé and best friend. But Dara isn't the only one with a phantom limb. The metaphor is so well done in this novel: Otis' brother died when he was young and the pain is still raw for Otis. He also has Meg, his best childhood friend and first love. She is also missing.

The emotions in this book are raw and done so well. Everyone seems to be suffering in their own way since Mason died four years ago and no one is telling Otis the truth about the events surrounding Mason's death. That makes it sound like a mystery, but it isn't. It's just life and people deal with something that is so difficult they don't know what to do with it.

I also liked that Otis is a swimmer. I was a swimmer and I could smell the chlorine on his being, understand the double workouts every day. But I digress. Despite the heavy topic of the book, it is not depressing; I actually felt filled with hope as I finished it. I want someone I know to read it so I can talk about it with them. 

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