Review: Sea by Heidi R. Kling

Heidi R. Kling's website here // $12.23 from {amazon}
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile (June 10, 2010)
Hardcover: 336 pages
Summary: from {goodreads}
Haunted by recurring nightmares since her mother’s disappearance over the Indian ocean three years before, fifteen-year old California girl Sienna Jones reluctantly travels with her psychiatrist father’s volunteer team to six-months post-tsunami Indonesia where she meets the scarred and soulful orphaned boy, Deni, who is more like Sea than anyone she has ever met.

She knows they can’t be together, so why can’t she stay away from him? And what about her old best friend-turned-suddenly-hot Spider who may or may not be waiting for her back home? And why won’t her dad tell her the truth about her mother’s plane crash? The farther she gets from home, the closer she comes to finding answers.
And Sea’s real adventure begins.

Rating: View my rating system.

My Thoughts: Have you heard Sea is amazing? Because so have I. And. It. Is. Amazing. Sea isn't one of those "edgy" reality books, nor is it a paranormal read, but its bittersweet love story holds its own brilliant torch. Sea isn't the type of book that's in-your-face with boundless originality and melodramatic tragedies; rather, the greatness lies in the quiet beauty of innocent love and pure hope. When I finished Sea, I didn't have one of those "wow" moments, but the more I reflect upon it, the more I am in awe of Sea's rich setting, vivid characters, and the intricacy hidden behind a simple plot.

I've never been in Indonesia, so I can't vouch for authenticity, but Sea definitely makes me feel like I have been there - and enjoyed it immensely. Heidi R. Kling quickly swishes us away into this exotic country, taking us from the cringe-worthy mandi (bathroom) to the delectable tempe (soybean cake). Sea subtly introduces interesting bits of Indonesian tradition, without ever seeming didactic, and allows us to form our own opinions about Indonesia. But regardless of opinion, I truly felt like I was there as Sienna and Deni visited an Indonesian temple and strolled through its humid streets. 

As for Sienna and Deni themselves, their insecurities yet underlying hope - Sienna's hope that her mother survived the plane crash and Deni's hope that his father is alive after the tsunami - make them believable and easy to relate to. Though it's hard to admit, it is human nature to keep on hoping and hypothesizing when there is a lack of closure, and Heidi R. Kling captures that perfectly in both characters. Yes, they're still fairly naive and idealist, but it's understandable; it cements the fact that Sienna and Deni are teenagers, despite the devastating tragedies they've undergone. The two are trying to discover themselves while just beginning to discover each other and the result is an outburst of emotions: grief, joy, confusion, anxiety, betrayal, and love, all jumbled up into a quickly-progressing yet tentative relationship. Sienna and Deni's relationship is beautiful in its intensity and has all the raw emotions of an Edward-Bella relationship, minus the possible stalker aspect.

Basically, I'm at a loss of words of what else I can say about Sea because the basic premise of it is simple: boy meets girl, they fall in love, they journey off together, and, ultimately, find themselves. So, apa (for those of you that have read Sea, you should know what I mean)? It's all of the little pieces - the exotic setting, the vivid writing, the strength of pure hope and love - that combine to form such a, not exactly "heart-rending" tale, but more of a heart-striking, true tale. Sea isn't technically a "perfect" book, but the way Heidi R. Kling weaves together emotions, the past, and promises for the future is perfect.      

Romance: More emotional than physical. There are a few kisses, but Sea's pretty safe in terms of age appropriateness. Don't mistake lack of physical contact for lack of emotional depth though.
Cover: 4.5 -- The cover is beautiful, don't get me wrong. It combines the different aspects of Sea well, though the two people in the water made me first expect a mermaid story. Not really where it's supposed to go.
Writing: 5.0
Characters: 4.5
Plot: 4.5

Bottom Line: Sea is a quiet beauty: the story gradually and unexpectedly sucks you in, takes you for an emotional ride, then returns you content - only when the ride is over do you look back and marvel at the complexity. Its mundane $17.99 price tag deceptively hides a lush trip to Indonesia, an innocent, intense romance, and an extraordinary, stunning debut.

Source: Bought. It's worth it! :D