Father-Daughter Cruise: ‘The Unsinkable Greta James’ Book Review

by | Dec 2022


'The Unsinkable Greta James' book cover.Jennifer E. Smith is a beloved teen author. If you haven’t read her, you may well know a young woman who has. Like Gabrielle Zevin and Rebecca Serle, Smith’s writing has followed her readers into adulthood.

In Smith’s novel, The Unsinkable Greta James, indie rock star Greta James has agreed to go on an Alaskan cruise with her father, Conrad James. James was supposed to take this once-in-a-lifetime trip with his wife, Helen, who died unexpectedly three months earlier. Helen and Conrad’s best friends, the Fosters and the Blooms, are also on the cruise. The three couples have been neighbors in Columbus, Ohio, for decades. Greta’s whole childhood is onboard with her.

The seven days aboard ship bring this daughter and father together in their grief and grievances. Greta has taken a risky and challenging path in following her dream to be a guitarist and rock musician. James may have given Greta her first guitar, but he never dreamed that she would be in her 30s, living in a small apartment in New York and playing stadium shows. Greta is a success, but she is also a worry to her father.

In the midst of these father-daughter dynamics Greta also meets Ben Wilder onboard the ship. He’s a writer and professor, and a romance sparks. This is a great read and would make a wonderful gift this holiday season.

Contributed by Maureen Millea Smith, a librarian and readers’ advisor at the Edina Library and a Minnesota Book Award–winning novelist. You can find her books at maureenmilleasmith.com.


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