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The Unsinkable Greta James

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An alternative cover edition for this ISBN can be found here. Greta James's meteoric rise to indie stardom was hard-won. Before she graced magazine covers and sold out venues, she spent her girlhood strumming her guitar in the family garage. Her first fan was her mother, Helen, whose face shone bright in the dusty downtown bars where she got her start—but not everyone encou An alternative cover edition for this ISBN can be found here. Greta James's meteoric rise to indie stardom was hard-won. Before she graced magazine covers and sold out venues, she spent her girlhood strumming her guitar in the family garage. Her first fan was her mother, Helen, whose face shone bright in the dusty downtown bars where she got her start—but not everyone encouraged Greta to follow her dreams. While many daydream about a crowd chanting their name, her father, Conrad, saw only a precarious life ahead for his daughter. Greta has spent her life trying to prove him wrong, but three months after Helen's sudden death, and weeks before the launch of her high-stakes sophomore album, Greta has an onstage meltdown that goes viral. Attempting to outrun the humiliation and heartbreak, she reluctantly agrees to accompany her father on a week-long Alaskan cruise, the very one that her parents had booked to celebrate their fortieth anniversary. This could be the James family's last chance to heal old wounds and will prove to be a voyage of discovery for them, as well as for Ben Wilder, a historian also struggling with a major upheaval in his life. Ben is on board to lecture about Jack London's The Call of the Wild, the adventure story Greta's mother adored, and he captures Greta's attention after her streak of dating hanger-ons. As Greta works to build up her confidence and heal, and Ben confronts his uncertain future, they must rely on one another to make sense of life’s difficult choices. In the end, Greta must make the most challenging decision of all: to listen to the song within her or make peace with those who love her. An indie musician reeling from tragedy reconnects with her estranged father on a week-long cruise in this tale of grief, fame, and love from bestselling author Jennifer E. Smith.


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An alternative cover edition for this ISBN can be found here. Greta James's meteoric rise to indie stardom was hard-won. Before she graced magazine covers and sold out venues, she spent her girlhood strumming her guitar in the family garage. Her first fan was her mother, Helen, whose face shone bright in the dusty downtown bars where she got her start—but not everyone encou An alternative cover edition for this ISBN can be found here. Greta James's meteoric rise to indie stardom was hard-won. Before she graced magazine covers and sold out venues, she spent her girlhood strumming her guitar in the family garage. Her first fan was her mother, Helen, whose face shone bright in the dusty downtown bars where she got her start—but not everyone encouraged Greta to follow her dreams. While many daydream about a crowd chanting their name, her father, Conrad, saw only a precarious life ahead for his daughter. Greta has spent her life trying to prove him wrong, but three months after Helen's sudden death, and weeks before the launch of her high-stakes sophomore album, Greta has an onstage meltdown that goes viral. Attempting to outrun the humiliation and heartbreak, she reluctantly agrees to accompany her father on a week-long Alaskan cruise, the very one that her parents had booked to celebrate their fortieth anniversary. This could be the James family's last chance to heal old wounds and will prove to be a voyage of discovery for them, as well as for Ben Wilder, a historian also struggling with a major upheaval in his life. Ben is on board to lecture about Jack London's The Call of the Wild, the adventure story Greta's mother adored, and he captures Greta's attention after her streak of dating hanger-ons. As Greta works to build up her confidence and heal, and Ben confronts his uncertain future, they must rely on one another to make sense of life’s difficult choices. In the end, Greta must make the most challenging decision of all: to listen to the song within her or make peace with those who love her. An indie musician reeling from tragedy reconnects with her estranged father on a week-long cruise in this tale of grief, fame, and love from bestselling author Jennifer E. Smith.

30 review for The Unsinkable Greta James

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kerrin

    Now Available! The Unsinkable Greta James by Jennifer E. Smith is a lovely story about a daughter trying to make peace with her father after her mother’s unexpected death. The daughter just happens to be an up-and-coming indie rock star. That was until she had a melt-down while performing right after her mother’s passing. It’s been three months and Greta hasn’t performed and can’t seem to move forward. And while her mother was her biggest supporter, her father wants her to have a more normal life Now Available! The Unsinkable Greta James by Jennifer E. Smith is a lovely story about a daughter trying to make peace with her father after her mother’s unexpected death. The daughter just happens to be an up-and-coming indie rock star. That was until she had a melt-down while performing right after her mother’s passing. It’s been three months and Greta hasn’t performed and can’t seem to move forward. And while her mother was her biggest supporter, her father wants her to have a more normal life. The two of them have butted heads for years, with Greta’s mother playing referee. On what would have been her parents’ 40th-anniversary trip, Greta joins her father and her parent’s best friends on an Alaskan cruise. On the ship, she befriends the handsome guest lecturer, Ben Wilder, who has written a successful novel about Jack London. He is also having an identity crisis from struggling with his own family and career issues. Sprinkled with occasional humor, the author treats the issues respectfully and realistically. Nothing is fast or easy when it comes to rebuilding relationships or careers. In the end, there is an overall feeling of hopefulness and healing, along with the possibility of romance. 4 stars. Book club recommended because there will be lots of juicy discussions about parent-child relationships. Thank you to #NetGalley and Ballantine Books for my advanced reader copy. Also thanks to Taylor Noel whose review brought this to my attention. This book will be published on March 1, 2022.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Catherine (alternativelytitledbooks)

    **Many thanks to NetGalley, Random House-Ballantine, and Jennifer E. Smith for a gifted copy of this book!! Now available as of 3.1!!** "One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain"- Bob Marley Greta James has been proving this adage since her teenage years. Starting as many guitarists do, in tiny coffee shops and school talent shows, she is now A Name in the music biz. Her climb to semi-stardom, however, is interrupted when tragedy arrives at her doorstep: her mother has unexpe **Many thanks to NetGalley, Random House-Ballantine, and Jennifer E. Smith for a gifted copy of this book!! Now available as of 3.1!!** "One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain"- Bob Marley Greta James has been proving this adage since her teenage years. Starting as many guitarists do, in tiny coffee shops and school talent shows, she is now A Name in the music biz. Her climb to semi-stardom, however, is interrupted when tragedy arrives at her doorstep: her mother has unexpectedly passed away. Greta made the decision not to leave her gig, but is wracked with guilt and dealing with the fall out of her first (and biggest) fan's passing. After losing it mid-song in front of a live audience, Greta feels the pressure to keep her career on an uphill trajectory while trying to heal emotionally. As if this weren't enough, brother Asher encourages her to accompany their father Conrad on a week long Alaskan cruise...one that he was SUPPOSED to take with Greta's mother to celebrate their anniversary. And of course there's the tiny fact that Conrad has never approved of Greta's 'unstable' career in the first place... Once aboard, Conrad and Greta are forced to spend a LOT of time together, with friends and neighbors as their only occasional buffer...until Greta meets Your Stereotypical History Professor and Ultra-Cute Nerd Ben Wilder, who is obsessed with Jack London's Call of the Wild and has boarded the ship to deal with some emotional trauma of his own. Will Greta make it through the week in one piece? What does she have to learn from Ben...and will the ice, the snow, and the ever-widening chasm between her and Conrad hold fast...or like an ice floe, split off for good? I've been wanting to dive into Jennifer Smith's work for a while, which up until this point has been in the YA world. I'm not sure how I'd feel about her YA work...but I have a pretty good feeling after reading this book, that I would ABSOLUTELY love it! The writing in this book is reminiscent of YA in certain respects, with fairly quick chapters, a reasonable page count, and characters you can grasp fairly quickly. In many respects, this COULD have been changed and pared down to fit a teenage audience...but I am SO grateful Smith didn't do that. The relationships in this one are so better realized as fully fledged adult relationships, with poignant reflections on careers, relationships, and most importantly, parent-child dynamics. The strife between Conrad and Greta was palpable, relatable, and beautifully crafted. It was hard to read at times, but gripping all along. Smith's choice to give the novel a bit of balance with the blossoming relationship between Greta and Ben was wise: it kept the novel from feeling TOO tragic, heavy, and dark. Music is of course the through line for Greta, but she is far from the cliched rock star, and the layers of her personality slowly unfurl over the course of the narrative. I also appreciate that Smith didn't tack ANY sort of a groan inducing 'too-good-to-be-true' ending on this tale. It didn't need it, and would have done the character of Greta a great disservice. Grief doesn't get boxed away and tied up neatly just because a certain amount of time has passed, or a certain event has happened. It is simply to be managed, worked through, and used to create something better and more beautiful in the world. Greta does all of this and more. This is a tragic, lovely, and moving story that will have you reflecting on your own family, music, love, and so many other essential facets of life. Molly Brown might be the first Unsinkable woman---but Greta James is by far the most unshakable AND unbreakable! 4 stars

  3. 4 out of 5

    jessica

    its been a minute since ive read a JES book. this sounded like it would tug on all the heartstrings, so i couldnt resist. i think at its core, this story has all the best intentions. its touches all of the emotions of real life - loss and grief, coping and hope, moving on and finding new love, and the courage of defending your past. it covers a lot, so there are plenty of moments to feel something, which is why im so bummed that i didnt. i felt perfectly neutral the entire time. totally a me probl its been a minute since ive read a JES book. this sounded like it would tug on all the heartstrings, so i couldnt resist. i think at its core, this story has all the best intentions. its touches all of the emotions of real life - loss and grief, coping and hope, moving on and finding new love, and the courage of defending your past. it covers a lot, so there are plenty of moments to feel something, which is why im so bummed that i didnt. i felt perfectly neutral the entire time. totally a me problem, though, and not the books. but i think this story has a pretty wide reach - theres something everyone can relate to within its pages - so i hope other readers can find this more impactful than i did. ↠ 3.5 stars

  4. 5 out of 5

    Whitney Erwin

    An emotional, heartfelt read! Overall, this was a very enjoyable book. Greta and Ben were dynamic characters that I loved but I personally didn’t care much for Conrad. I wanted him to support his daughter and her lifestyle more, so he was a bit of a bummer. The author did a fantastic job bringing the Alaskan setting alive in this book, adding a lot of details, which I appreciated. I would have loved an epilogue a bit further into the future. I would have enjoyed knowing what happened with Ben an An emotional, heartfelt read! Overall, this was a very enjoyable book. Greta and Ben were dynamic characters that I loved but I personally didn’t care much for Conrad. I wanted him to support his daughter and her lifestyle more, so he was a bit of a bummer. The author did a fantastic job bringing the Alaskan setting alive in this book, adding a lot of details, which I appreciated. I would have loved an epilogue a bit further into the future. I would have enjoyed knowing what happened with Ben and what direction he decided to go in with his life. Bonus points for a cute cover that grabs your attention! Thank you, Net Galley and Ballantine, for an ARC in return for my honest review!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    I already enjoy those sentimental YA books of Jennifer E. Smith before and as far as I can see she can successfully achieve to switch genres to create this heartfelt adult/ women’s fiction/ family drama! An Alaskan trip bring Greta James, grieving daughter who recently choke up at the stage in front of her fans which went viral and threatened her to lose her entire musical career she’s hardly built and her father who never believed in her dream, lost without his wife’s existence in his life. Sh I already enjoy those sentimental YA books of Jennifer E. Smith before and as far as I can see she can successfully achieve to switch genres to create this heartfelt adult/ women’s fiction/ family drama! An Alaskan trip bring Greta James, grieving daughter who recently choke up at the stage in front of her fans which went viral and threatened her to lose her entire musical career she’s hardly built and her father who never believed in her dream, lost without his wife’s existence in his life. She involuntarily replaces her mother’s place in this long awaited trip which was planned to celebrate her parents’ 40th anniversary and 4 close friends of the family also join them. Poetic, isn’t it? Greta feels lost, aching deeply because from the beginning of her musical journey, her mother is her supporter, confidante, her best friend who encouraged her to chase her dreams. She wrote the song called “Astronomy “ for her mother but she could never hear it, she suddenly passed away. That’s why she had her emotional breakdown at the stage. She couldn’t finish the song. Now she’s a mess. And her brother convinces her to take trip to Alaska to accompany her father. Well, I have to admit the depictions of sightseeings were brilliant and this book is like travel guide that encourages you to cancel everything in your life to go to visit to Alaska. The father- daughter’s dysfunctional relationship, past wounds, resentments, misunderstandings were perfectly analyzed. And the romance parts with nerdy professor whose main focus is Jack London novels was also sweet! This is well written, heart warming, positive, inspirational, lovely women’s fiction/ family novel about grief, love, choices, second chances! Especially I recommend it to the fans of the author and lovers of well developed, relaxing, sweet- enchanting novels! Special thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing/ Ballentine’s for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    At the end of 2021, I find myself involved with two books both targeting family dynamics. Luckily, both of them were enjoyable stories that I can recommend. Greta James is a fairly successful indie musician who is dealing with her mother’s death. Her mother had been the one to stand between Greta and her father, who disapproves of her life. Now, she finds herself taking her mother’s place on an Alaskan cruise with her father. On board, she meets a professor hired to lecture on Jack London. He’s At the end of 2021, I find myself involved with two books both targeting family dynamics. Luckily, both of them were enjoyable stories that I can recommend. Greta James is a fairly successful indie musician who is dealing with her mother’s death. Her mother had been the one to stand between Greta and her father, who disapproves of her life. Now, she finds herself taking her mother’s place on an Alaskan cruise with her father. On board, she meets a professor hired to lecture on Jack London. He’s dealing with his own family dramas and the two hit it off. I enjoyed this family drama. I’ve found that death always shakes up the family dynamics. Greta was a fully realized character. At age 36, she’s wondering how long her current lifestyle will work for her. I felt her grief, her doubts and her disappointments. But also her slowly dawning awareness of her father’s situation. I enjoyed seeing how these two were able to find their way towards not just a truce but an understanding of each other. I found myself shedding more than a few tears at the end. I understand that Smith’s prior books were in the YA genre. But here, she writes an adult story. It’s heartwarming, but not at all sappy. I did struggle a little that Greta’s on stage meltdown after her mom’s death became such a big deal. But that’s a minor quibble. I was impressed with Miller’s ability to create the Alaskan cruise ship atmosphere, both on and off the ship. This would make a great transfer onto the screen. My thanks to Netgalley and Random House -Ballantine Books for an advance copy of this book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sujoya

    Thirty-six year old Greta James is forced to go on an Alaskan Cruise with her father and a group of her parents’ friends. This was originally intended to be an anniversary trip for her parents - a trip that her late mother had been planning for and was looking forward to for a long time. Her mother’s sudden demise, three months ago, came as a shock to everyone who knew her and has left both Greta and her father submerged in their own grief. Greta is an indie musician by profession. Her relationsh Thirty-six year old Greta James is forced to go on an Alaskan Cruise with her father and a group of her parents’ friends. This was originally intended to be an anniversary trip for her parents - a trip that her late mother had been planning for and was looking forward to for a long time. Her mother’s sudden demise, three months ago, came as a shock to everyone who knew her and has left both Greta and her father submerged in their own grief. Greta is an indie musician by profession. Her relationship with her father is complicated (and has been so ever since she was a teenager) as a result of his disapproval of her life and career choices. While her mother,Helen, was a constant source of support and never failed to cheer her on, her father chose to remain on the sidelines. But now, forced to spend time together on an eight-day cruise they are made to address past resentments and the strain in their relationship while trying to come to terms with their loss. Greta’s professional life has also suffered a setback on account of her having an emotional breakdown onstage during her last performance, seven days after her mother’s death which was splashed all over the media. Greta’s next performance is days away and she has a lot to figure out in order to move forward .She also meets Ben, a scholarly professor separated from his wife and the father of two young daughters, who is traveling alone while promoting his latest book. Will this trip help her heal and give her an opportunity to mend her relationship with her father or will it lead to further friction? Will Greta be able to salvage her career or will she have to give up on her dreams? The Unsinkable Greta James by Jennifer E Smith is a moving story about family, loss, grief, healing and moving on. Losing a loved one is never easy and everyone has to go through a very personal process of healing. The author's depiction of Greta's journey will touch your heart. I found the heartfelt conversations between Ben and Greta to be profoundly insightful. Her interactions with him are sweet, romantic and cathartic for Greta allowing her moments of pause and reflection. The author's portrayal of Greta and her father Conrad , both overwhelmed with their own grief and unable to acknowledge or understand or share in each other's pain, is very real. The author eloquently describes the emotions of the main characters and the dynamics of the parent-child relationship with quiet dignity. The vivid imagery of the natural beauty of Alaska and Glacier Bay make for a breathtaking backdrop to this lovely story. Though there was a bit of repetition and a few slow moments in the narrative, overall this is a beautifully-penned and engaging read, heavy in emotion with moments of wit and humor, that will leave you smiling through your tears. Thanks to Random House-Ballantine and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Val ⚓️ Shameless Handmaiden ⚓️

    3.5 Stars The timing of this read is kind of funny as I literally read this the day after getting home from a cruise vacation...and I will actually be going on an Alaskan cruise this June (a 2020 holdover trip). Perhaps I should have saved this for when I was on the Alaskan cruise...but I felt like reading it now. I digress. I enjoyed this book well enough and ended up reading it in one sitting. I thought the story flowed well and it held my attention; however, I had expected this to be a deep em 3.5 Stars The timing of this read is kind of funny as I literally read this the day after getting home from a cruise vacation...and I will actually be going on an Alaskan cruise this June (a 2020 holdover trip). Perhaps I should have saved this for when I was on the Alaskan cruise...but I felt like reading it now. I digress. I enjoyed this book well enough and ended up reading it in one sitting. I thought the story flowed well and it held my attention; however, I had expected this to be a deep emotional read about a father, his daughter, and their fractured relationship. And it was...But it also really wasn't. Instead, the book seemed to focus more on Greta's ship romance and less about her relationship with her father, which I kind of found disappointing. Still, while I doubt this book will stick in my memory for long, it was a decent enough way to spend a lazy, post-vacation afternoon.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    This is a terrific novel about grief and family and how life doesn’t always give you what you want. It’s a very engaging read with some wonderful in-depth characters, humor and a smattering of romance. Greta James is a thirty six year old indie musician and songwriter who has had major success with her first album and is working hard to launch her second, when she is derailed by grief over the sudden death of her mother and biggest fan as well as the break-up of her relationship. Taking a break, This is a terrific novel about grief and family and how life doesn’t always give you what you want. It’s a very engaging read with some wonderful in-depth characters, humor and a smattering of romance. Greta James is a thirty six year old indie musician and songwriter who has had major success with her first album and is working hard to launch her second, when she is derailed by grief over the sudden death of her mother and biggest fan as well as the break-up of her relationship. Taking a break, she finds herself talked into accompanying her father on the Alaskan cruise her mother had booked before she died, to celebrate their fortieth wedding anniversary, accompanied by two couples of family friends. At best, Greta and her father have a prickly relationship. He’s never understood her desire to be a rock musician and doesn’t see it as a viable long-term prospect. He would prefer her to settle down with a nice man and take up a more stable profession (like her brother), while Greta finds it hard to accept that he doesn’t want her to do what she loves best and excels at. Greta and her dad have always had trouble talking to each other so they don’t get off to the best start on the cruise, but gradually they start to understand what the other is feeling and start to build some shaky bridges. I loved the descriptions of Alaska, the places the cruise stopped and the various activities they went on (all booked previously by Greta’s mother). I also enjoyed Greta’s romance with Ben, a successful writer, undergoing doubts about the viability of his future as a writer in the midst of his own family issues. Despite the very real heartfelt grief and pain underlying Greta and her father’s relationship, the wit and humour of the writing makes this an uplifting book. With thanks to Quercus Books and Netgalley for a copy to read

  10. 4 out of 5

    Constantine

    Rating: ⭐⭐⭐ ½ Genre: Contemporary Greta James is a rock star. Her mother Helen passed away recently just before going on an Alaskan ship cruise with her father. This was the trip her mother has booked to celebrate her 40th marriage anniversary with her husband. Greta and her brother argue about who should go with their father and the rock star ends up going with him. The story takes place in a week timeframe. Greta and her father didn’t have a strong relationship especially because her father had Rating: ⭐⭐⭐ ½ Genre: Contemporary Greta James is a rock star. Her mother Helen passed away recently just before going on an Alaskan ship cruise with her father. This was the trip her mother has booked to celebrate her 40th marriage anniversary with her husband. Greta and her brother argue about who should go with their father and the rock star ends up going with him. The story takes place in a week timeframe. Greta and her father didn’t have a strong relationship especially because her father had no faith in her as a musician. Could this trip change things between them? That’s is what the bigger part of the story is about. The concept of the story is really good. I enjoy reading about family members when they sort out their issues and try to rekindle their bonds. In this story what both the father and daughter share is the grief of losing a loved one. Helen’s passing away and the trip makes the father and his daughter put aside their differences and know each other better. The end result is beautiful. There is also a romantic interest (Ben) that Greta gets to know on the ship. But I felt something was missing between the two. I don’t know what exactly. Their chemistry was not strong and I feel something was absent in that new relationship. Another thing that didn’t convince me is Greta’s character and her being a rock star or musician. I kept forgetting that she was a musician in the story until something was coming up about her job. Maybe her behavior did not feel like a celebrity. I feel her character needed some more fine-tuning in that area. However, these points I mentioned do not outweigh the perks that this story has. The main highlight for me is the father and daughter relationship which is the core of this book. Many thanks to the publisher Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine Books, and NetGalley for providing me with an advance reader copy of this book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Darla

    You got me, Jennifer E. Smith! Thank you for those tissue-worthy moments. They were all precious, but I could feel them building and the last was such a delight. Having cruised the inside passage twice, I was thrilled to visit Alaska with Greta and her dad Conrad. Sadly, Greta's mother was not with them. Her unexpected death was still weighing heavily on the family. The week on the ship (not a boat) seems like too much togetherness at first. Can Greta and Conrad find a way to communicate without You got me, Jennifer E. Smith! Thank you for those tissue-worthy moments. They were all precious, but I could feel them building and the last was such a delight. Having cruised the inside passage twice, I was thrilled to visit Alaska with Greta and her dad Conrad. Sadly, Greta's mother was not with them. Her unexpected death was still weighing heavily on the family. The week on the ship (not a boat) seems like too much togetherness at first. Can Greta and Conrad find a way to communicate without Grace as their translator. Greta's career as an indie rock star is on the rocks. Is this trip to Alaska a retreat for recovery or just another way to runaway from her grief? This would make a fantastic book club pick. Thank you to Ballantine Books and Edelweiss+ for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sally Hanan

    This quiet story is about a week spent on an Alaskan cruise, and the grieving father and daughter who find it hard to be around each other now that the gaping hole of where Mom should be is ever present. Full of deep, heartfelt pain and hope, it is brilliantly written mix of lit and women's fiction, with almost every page full of word-painted descriptions of the Alaskan landscape. All three (including the love interest) must work through their perspectives and decide what to keep and what to let g This quiet story is about a week spent on an Alaskan cruise, and the grieving father and daughter who find it hard to be around each other now that the gaping hole of where Mom should be is ever present. Full of deep, heartfelt pain and hope, it is brilliantly written mix of lit and women's fiction, with almost every page full of word-painted descriptions of the Alaskan landscape. All three (including the love interest) must work through their perspectives and decide what to keep and what to let go of in order to move forward in life, and also what to do with what they decide to keep; for as we know, nothing ever stays the same and we either move with the changes or become trapped in amber.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Taylor Noel

    I can’t remember the last time I felt so emotionally connected to a novel. This book is compulsively readable and I cared so deeply for Greta and her dad. I thought their relationship was incredibly well-constructed – the tension between them was palpable and believable and tugged at my heart. Even though I have a great relationship with my parents, I think there’s something universal about needed approval from the people who raised you. I also loved Ben and the moments of comic relief and roman I can’t remember the last time I felt so emotionally connected to a novel. This book is compulsively readable and I cared so deeply for Greta and her dad. I thought their relationship was incredibly well-constructed – the tension between them was palpable and believable and tugged at my heart. Even though I have a great relationship with my parents, I think there’s something universal about needed approval from the people who raised you. I also loved Ben and the moments of comic relief and romance that he brought to the story without overwhelming it. I teared up so many times while reading this book, but I also smiled a lot and I wrote down so many sentences that I wanted to hold onto a little longer (including a few below). THE UNSINKABLE GRETA JAMES was such a cathartic read and I just loved every minute of it. I think it's perfect for fans of EVVIE DRAKE STARTS OVER, DAISY JONES & THE SIX, DEAR EDWARD and WHERE’D YOU GO BERNADETTE. A FEW FAVORITE QUOTES “It’s what’s driven her all these years, the fear of all that – of getting stuck, of standing still, of being ordinary.” “It’s that the life he wants for her is fundamentally different than the life she wants for herself, and music is the boat that’s forever carrying her away from it.” “It’s a particularly strange kind of loss, when something you don’t think you even want gets taken away from you.” “But she’ll never fully understand why skepticism is most people’s first reaction. Maybe it’s jealous. Or maybe it’s something deeper than that, a kind of resentment for having the audacity to be living her dream when their had to be left behind.” #teamprh

  14. 4 out of 5

    Larry H

    (I can't tell you how many times I thought of this as The Unsinkable Molly Brown , but I'm an old musical theater fan, so get off my lawn.) In Jennifer E. Smith's first adult contemporary novel (she's a prolific YA writer), grief and resentment can make you feel far away from a person, even when you’re with them. Greta James is a talented singer/songwriter on the verge of releasing her second album. She’s had some notoriety and a few hits. But when she completely falls apart during a performanc (I can't tell you how many times I thought of this as The Unsinkable Molly Brown , but I'm an old musical theater fan, so get off my lawn.) In Jennifer E. Smith's first adult contemporary novel (she's a prolific YA writer), grief and resentment can make you feel far away from a person, even when you’re with them. Greta James is a talented singer/songwriter on the verge of releasing her second album. She’s had some notoriety and a few hits. But when she completely falls apart during a performance shortly after her mother's death, and the video of it goes viral, she needs a little bit of a break to figure things out. Since she has some free time, her brother suggests she accompany her father on the Alaskan cruise he and their mother were supposed to go on to mark their 40th anniversary. Even though her parents were supposed to travel with two other couples, Greta joining her father would help him feel less like a third wheel. The thing is, Greta and her father don’t get along, and her mother often played peacemaker between them. Her father hasn’t ever been particularly supportive of her music career or most of her life choices, thinking she should have a backup plan and settle down to have a family like her brother. And Greta hasn’t always remained silent about his criticism—her first hit was a song about his disapproval. But healing and reaching understanding isn’t going to be easy, even when they’re on a ship together. Greta must figure out how to meet her father halfway, and at the same time, she needs to figure out how to find the courage to get back up on stage again, as her record label is expecting her to. And when she meets Ben, an author and college professor dealing with his own uncertainties, will their connection prove distracting or help her along her journey? The Unsinkable Greta James was a powerful exploration of how grief and regret and hurt can affect you in ways you’ve not realized, as well as how we hurt others. At times, Greta's father really is hurtful, but you know it comes from a place of love and sadness. I’m definitely a fan of Smith’s storytelling, and I cared about these characters and what would happen to them. Check out my list of the best books I read in 2021 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2022/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2021.html. See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com. Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea

    I thought this was boring, the characters were one-dimensional, and the dialogue wasn't well-written. There was too much focus on an insta-love romance, when there should have been more focus on the relationship between the main character and her dad, since that's what this book is supposed to be about. I thought this was boring, the characters were one-dimensional, and the dialogue wasn't well-written. There was too much focus on an insta-love romance, when there should have been more focus on the relationship between the main character and her dad, since that's what this book is supposed to be about.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Meagan (Meagansbookclub)

    I liked this one! Didn’t love it though. I thought the exploration of Greta’s grief was well done, but honestly I was a little frustrated how this book turned more into a romance with Ben than fixing her relationship with her Dad. They were on a cruise ship together for 7-8 days and yet their time together was limited. It didn’t feel like any progress and I think that’s a bit unrealistic to be honest. It was definitely a “coming of age” vibe with the main focus on Greta as she had reflective mome I liked this one! Didn’t love it though. I thought the exploration of Greta’s grief was well done, but honestly I was a little frustrated how this book turned more into a romance with Ben than fixing her relationship with her Dad. They were on a cruise ship together for 7-8 days and yet their time together was limited. It didn’t feel like any progress and I think that’s a bit unrealistic to be honest. It was definitely a “coming of age” vibe with the main focus on Greta as she had reflective moments from her past and forward growth through her mothers passing and her music meltdown. I do think this one might be fun as a book club discussion. Audiobook Review: loved the narration!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Heather~ Nature.books.and.coffee

    This was a story about grief, family drama between ba father and his estranged daughter, and finding yourself again. The audiobook was narrated by Mae Whitman and was so well done. I read parts as well. I really enjoyed this book. It was really heartfelt, emotional, and hopeful. Greta James is a musician who has a meltdown during a performance after the death of her mother. After it goes viral, she decides to go on the Alaskan cruise with her father, because he was supposed to go on the cruise w This was a story about grief, family drama between ba father and his estranged daughter, and finding yourself again. The audiobook was narrated by Mae Whitman and was so well done. I read parts as well. I really enjoyed this book. It was really heartfelt, emotional, and hopeful. Greta James is a musician who has a meltdown during a performance after the death of her mother. After it goes viral, she decides to go on the Alaskan cruise with her father, because he was supposed to go on the cruise with her mother. She tries to rekindle a relationship with him. And she also meets Ben on the cruise, who is an author who is also dealing with tough issues of his own, and they form a relationship/friendship with eachother. I enjoyed the dynamics between between all of these characters, and loved the Alaskan cruise setting as well. Definitely not to be missed! Thank you @quercusbooks @netgalley @prhaudio for the gifted copies.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Gretchen Rubin

    A great novel about romance, grief, family, music—all set on an Alaskan cruise ship.

  19. 4 out of 5

    RoseMary Achey

    Perhaps this book appeals more to a younger reader but I found it a bit dull. The main character struggles with family issues and decides to spend some time with her Dad on an Alaskan cruise. The cruise is 8 days and believe me, I could not wait for that cruise to be over! Every detail of every conversation and feeling was expressed. The protagonist was young with a great deal of angst and regret plus she is a bit immature. As you can tell, I did not like her character.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I loved this book. I loved the descriptions of Alaska, the descriptions of NYC, the real life love affair, but most of all I loved the complicated father/daughter relationship that was so beautifully written. This one just had my heart all the way through. I even shed some tears in the last chapter, which surprised me a bit. Good good stuff.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sonja Arlow

    A nice audio experience but ultimately this story won’t stay with me for long. It’s a good accompaniment when you are busy doing something else because I never felt fully invested. The story is setup to be character driven, focusing on the emotions of not only the loss of a loved one, but building up relationships that were broken down a decade ago. Unfortunately, I found the father to be quite an unlikable character – especially with his daughter. Unyielding and rude throughout most of the novel A nice audio experience but ultimately this story won’t stay with me for long. It’s a good accompaniment when you are busy doing something else because I never felt fully invested. The story is setup to be character driven, focusing on the emotions of not only the loss of a loved one, but building up relationships that were broken down a decade ago. Unfortunately, I found the father to be quite an unlikable character – especially with his daughter. Unyielding and rude throughout most of the novel, which made the ending hard to swallow. I found Greta a more well-rounded character, full of mistakes and regret with a determination to fix past errors. I did find her cruise ship dalliance with Ben a little shallow and although many themes are touched on in the novel it all just felt like skimming the surface.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Truly could not LOVE THIS BOOK MORE. Got me out of a reading slump during the height of the pandemic and I practically inhaled the book in one sitting. This is Jen E. Smith at her absolute best. Do not miss it!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Stacie Lauren

    Big fan! Big big fan! I absolutely adored The Unsinkable Greta James! The book gave me some Daisy Jones and the Six vibes mixed with the more wholesome book, Mary Jane. Greta James is a rock star, but when her mom passes away, she fills her mom’s place on an Alaskan cruise with her father. She and her dad have always had a tenuous relationship, and that is only one of the struggles Greta is currently facing. After her mom’s death, she may have blown up her whole career from a meltdown at a show. Big fan! Big big fan! I absolutely adored The Unsinkable Greta James! The book gave me some Daisy Jones and the Six vibes mixed with the more wholesome book, Mary Jane. Greta James is a rock star, but when her mom passes away, she fills her mom’s place on an Alaskan cruise with her father. She and her dad have always had a tenuous relationship, and that is only one of the struggles Greta is currently facing. After her mom’s death, she may have blown up her whole career from a meltdown at a show. While this book does have a romantic component, I was actually pleased that it wasn’t the sole focus of the book. Greta is learning to navigate life without her mom, trying to rebuild a relationship with her dad, and learning how to be herself again. And what can go wrong in the middle of an Alaskan cruise? This was a heartfelt novel with some great wit. Would love to read more about Greta James! Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group-Ballantine Books for granting me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Marianne

    The Unsinkable Greta James is a novel by best-selling American author, Jennifer E. Smith. It is literally the last place Greta James wants to be: on a cruise ship off the coast of Alaska. Her mother had planned the week-long cruise as a celebration of forty years of marriage. But three months earlier, an aneurysm had put Helen James into an early grave. Now here she is with her father and two other couples of his vintage: Helen and Conrad’s best friends over the last several decades, having the The Unsinkable Greta James is a novel by best-selling American author, Jennifer E. Smith. It is literally the last place Greta James wants to be: on a cruise ship off the coast of Alaska. Her mother had planned the week-long cruise as a celebration of forty years of marriage. But three months earlier, an aneurysm had put Helen James into an early grave. Now here she is with her father and two other couples of his vintage: Helen and Conrad’s best friends over the last several decades, having the vacation Helen can’t. Losing her mother plunged Greta into such deep grief that she had a meltdown on stage during her last live show, a week after Helen died. A meltdown that went viral. Despite pressure from the label, her manager and her publicist, Greta has withdrawn from public life since then. She knows if her career as an indie singer/songwriter/guitarist is to survive, she needs to come back controlled and confident, with a new song. A song that’s not coming… On top of all that, she’s broken up with her boyfriend and just learned the man who’s been her fallback most of her life has gotten engaged. So she’s on a ship full of mostly oldies who haven’t a clue about her, which is OK. The two other couples provide a buffer between her and Conrad, necessary because, although she’s here to keep an eye on him (at her brother’s insistence), they haven’t seen eye to eye since she entered her teens. Her mother may have been her greatest fan, but her father still thinks she should, at age thirty-six, have quit travelling, got a real job, and settled into a steady relationship, like her brother. While she can relax in relative anonymity, an enthusiastic young teen of south Asian descent is thrilled to meet her idol, and Greta recalls her own teenaged obsession with making music. And among the activities to which she does accompany Conrad and his friends, a talk by Ben Wilder, a history professor at Columbia with a best-selling novel: an enigmatic figure who piques Greta’s interest. Somehow they connect, and see unexpected parallels in their lives. It’s when she’s agreed to spend a whole day excursion with her father, meticulously pre-arranged by her mother, that things with Conrad come to a head. Can they salvage something from their decades-long estrangement? In this novel, Smith offers a well-rounded protagonist and an appealing support cast, most of whom endear themselves to the reader despite, or perhaps because of, their very human flaws and foibles. Her portrayal of the various relationships is convincing and certain turns of the plot are likely to have the eyes filling with tears and a lump forming in the throat, although there is also plenty of humour, especially in the witty dialogue. Smith’s depiction of the cruise, the activities and excursions, and life aboard a cruise ship perfectly captures the atmosphere and she so skilfully sets the scene of Greta’s performances, readers will wish they could be there. A tale that examines family dynamics and throws in a little romance, this one is funny, moving, heart-warming and uplifting. This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Quercus Books

  25. 5 out of 5

    Val (pagespoursandpups)

    Greta James is an indie rock star who has just lost her mother. As she attempts to deal with the loss, she loses her passion, her confidence and a little bit of her identity. Greta's brother talks her into going with her Dad on a cruise to Alaska in place of her deceased mom. She and her father have a very strained relationship and are horrible communicators with each other. Greta goes on this trip begrudgingly, only to be there for her father at her brother's request. Her parents' two closest co Greta James is an indie rock star who has just lost her mother. As she attempts to deal with the loss, she loses her passion, her confidence and a little bit of her identity. Greta's brother talks her into going with her Dad on a cruise to Alaska in place of her deceased mom. She and her father have a very strained relationship and are horrible communicators with each other. Greta goes on this trip begrudgingly, only to be there for her father at her brother's request. Her parents' two closest couple friends are also on the cruise. Along the week-long journey, Greta finds out that she really needed this this time away from her regular life, this time with her mother's best friends, this time with her father and this time away from the pressures of her life in the limelight. I enjoyed this read, but I did not find it to be anything special. I didn't really believe the breakneck speed at which Greta fell for another passenger. I didn't really believe that he would fall for someone who admitted she didn't like children when he had two daughters. The character development was okay, but I felt like I never fully understood why her father would be so disappointed in her life choices. He seemed to finally come around in the end, but I think I wanted more from their conversations and interactions. I liked the ending of this story - I appreciated that it didn't try to find a perfect ending. I left the story with hope for the main character. Thank you to NetGalley and Random House/Ballentine for the ARC to read and review. Solid 3 stars.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sherri Thacker

    Greta’s parents are supposed to take an Alaskan cruise for their 40th anniversary but her mom suddenly dies so Greta and her dad go on this cruise. Greta is a famous singer/musician and her dad has never believed in her as an accomplished songwriter. After spending a week together on the cruise, they work through a few things. This was a fun read and a nice change of pace from all the psychological thrillers I’ve been obsessed with the past few months. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for t Greta’s parents are supposed to take an Alaskan cruise for their 40th anniversary but her mom suddenly dies so Greta and her dad go on this cruise. Greta is a famous singer/musician and her dad has never believed in her as an accomplished songwriter. After spending a week together on the cruise, they work through a few things. This was a fun read and a nice change of pace from all the psychological thrillers I’ve been obsessed with the past few months. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this early release in exchange for my honest review. To be published March 2022.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Jeffers

    The Unsinkable Greta James is a book that was tailor-made for my heartstrings. It's like it was created in a lab just for me. The Unsinkable Greta James is a book that was tailor-made for my heartstrings. It's like it was created in a lab just for me.

  28. 4 out of 5

    MaryBeth's Bookshelf

    Many thanks to Random House for gifting me a copy of this book to read! The Unsinkable Greta James was one of my most anticipated reads of 2022. Greta James is an up and going Indie rock guitarist when her entire world is blown apart by the sudden death of her mother. Unable to deal with her feelings of guilt and pain, she retreats into herself and her career begins to take a hit. She's pressured by her brother to accompany her Dad on a week long cruise to Alaska - the cruise her parents have bee Many thanks to Random House for gifting me a copy of this book to read! The Unsinkable Greta James was one of my most anticipated reads of 2022. Greta James is an up and going Indie rock guitarist when her entire world is blown apart by the sudden death of her mother. Unable to deal with her feelings of guilt and pain, she retreats into herself and her career begins to take a hit. She's pressured by her brother to accompany her Dad on a week long cruise to Alaska - the cruise her parents have been planning and her mother was beyond excited to go on. There she must confront her feelings about her father (whom she does not get along with) along with the feelings of guilt for not being with her mother when she passed away. Despite the heavy topics, this is a fairly quick and easy read. I liked the tension between father and daughter - we've all been there, right? A parent who doesn't approve of our life choices simply because we chose a different path. As Greta and her father deal with the missing pieces of their lives, they're forced to confront their own choices and the consequences of those actions. There's a dash a romance thrown in there because what is vacation with out a little fling!? But, it was the ending that got me and made the whole book completely worth it. I don't want to give it away, but it really took my breathe away and gave me pause. That's the part I won't forget...

  29. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    This is a highly enjoyable family drama about a successful indie musician, Greta James, trying to come to terms with her mother's death, a traumatic experience onstage, her relationship with her father, and her love life. That's quite a bit to deal with and Greta grapples with all of it on a cruise to Alaska with her father, a trip he had planned to take with his wife. There was a lot in this book I could relate to, especially dealing with a mother's death. The loss of a parent throws the remain This is a highly enjoyable family drama about a successful indie musician, Greta James, trying to come to terms with her mother's death, a traumatic experience onstage, her relationship with her father, and her love life. That's quite a bit to deal with and Greta grapples with all of it on a cruise to Alaska with her father, a trip he had planned to take with his wife. There was a lot in this book I could relate to, especially dealing with a mother's death. The loss of a parent throws the remaining family into grief and turmoil and it changes lives and leaves a hole that can't be filled. Also, Greta's career goals are conflicting with her romantic relationships and I think this is a theme many deal with at some point. Any big changes in life cause lifestyle changes, and change is always hard to deal with. The setting of the cruise ship was a breathtaking background for the story and I enjoyed all the side trips on the cruise to experience some of Alaska. I loved some of the characters: Ben Wilder, the writer; and the little girl Greta met on the ship whose dream was to master the guitar. Thanks to Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine through Netgalley for an advance copy. This book will be published on March 1, 2022.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tania

    A well written, easy-reading novel about grief and healing. For me the best thing about this book was how authentic the relationships felt, especially between Greta and her dad, but also between her and Ben. Both these relationships are far from perfect, but so much more interesting and real because of their issues. I really liked Greta, she was strong, fragile, sometimes self-centered but generous. I don't think I'll remember this book in a month or two though, which is why I only gave it three A well written, easy-reading novel about grief and healing. For me the best thing about this book was how authentic the relationships felt, especially between Greta and her dad, but also between her and Ben. Both these relationships are far from perfect, but so much more interesting and real because of their issues. I really liked Greta, she was strong, fragile, sometimes self-centered but generous. I don't think I'll remember this book in a month or two though, which is why I only gave it three stars. "Maybe the point isn't always to make things last," he says. "Maybe it's just to make them count." The Story: A 36-year-old indie rock star goes on a weeklong cruise with her father after her mother unexpectedly dies.

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