BOOK REVIEW: ‘Loving The Ocean Won’t Keep It From Killing You’ by Rachel Bell

Loving The Ocean Won't Keep It From Killing You book cover by Rachel Bell
Image from the publisher’s site.

It’s tough to discuss Loving The Ocean Won’t Keep It From Killing You, Rachel Bell’s latest, without being impressed by what she attempts and achieves. Bell writes about the truth of youth, one that is different from the lies of the tooth fairy, and instead, in these pages, Bell plants the crushing truth of youth and life under the pillow of your conscious.

The book follows Marina, as we learn of the dissolution of her relationship, and the influences in her childhood that may have lead up to her current emotions. It’s in this coming of age, as a young and fragile youth, that Bell truly shines. Her prose is minimalistic, not hiding behind imagery all the time, but instead stating what can happen to someone when they are young, and the lasting effects it can have. Marina is a unique girl, but in the same way, she is every child. She explores sex and sexuality, relationships with her parents and others, wanting to be both independent and loved.

Listing Marina’s relationship with men, Bell captures how passions can be both temporary and important at a young age:

“When they fucked in his basement she tried to be extra good at sex so that maybe Rakim would keep her. He did not. She biked home sore and never heard from him again. She would eventually forget his name.”

Perhaps what is most heartbreaking across this book, is how relatable Marina feels to the reader. It’s likely to induce forgotten memories of youth in the reader, back in a time when things seemed both simple and important. People fleet in and out of Marina’s life, always holding significance. She has to confront her relationships with her parents, and figure out her own identity as she grows. It truly strikes me as a great capturing of the existentialist crisis of youth.

Bell captures anxiety, depression and relationships well in her story. It’s not necessarily a get-by guide, but instead acts as the comforting friend who can relate to your problems when you think nobody else can. Loving The Ocean Won’t Keep It From Killing You is a quick and emotional read. Whether you know Bell for her poetry, or not at all, you won’t be disappointed.

Pick this up so you can see your heart represented in these pages. The heart that you forgot, that is still beating, and wants to come home.




8/10

Summary

A book that illustrates the strength and vulnerability of youth, and the way it shapes adulthood.

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