Where Sea Meets Sky by Karina Halle
Published by Atria Books on March 31, 2015
Genres: Adult Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Drama, New Adult, Road Trip, Romance, Travel
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A new adult novel that perfectly captures the existential angst of your early twenties with raw wit, fresh insight, and true feeling from a critically adored USA TODAY bestselling author.
Joshua Miles has spent his early twenties spinning his wheels. Working dead-end jobs and living at home has left him exhausted and uninspired, with little energy to pursue his passion for graphic art. Until he meets Gemma Henare, a vivacious out-of-towner from New Zealand. What begins as a one-night stand soon becomes a turning point for Josh. He can't get Gemma out of his head, even after she has left for home, and finds himself throwing caution to the wind for the first time in his life.
It's not long before Josh is headed to New Zealand with only a backpack, some cash, and Gemma's name to go on. But when he finally tracks her down, he finds his adventure is only just beginning. Equally infatuated, Gemma leads him on a whirlwind tour across the beautiful country, opening Josh up to life, lust, love, and all the messy heartache in between. Because, when love drags you somewhere, it might never let go even when you know you have to say goodbye.
feeling from a critically adored USA TODAY bestselling author.
Karina Halle does it again, transporting to you to another country, another culture, showing you how messy and beautiful falling in love is.
Where Sea Meets Sky takes us on a gorgeous adventure into the heart of New Zealand where Canadian Josh Miles discovers himself while falling for the unattainable Gemma Henare. Karina Halle kills it with her descriptive story telling. She has this amazing talent when it comes to transporting you to another land. You’ll feel as if you’re there right along with the characters in the book.
Josh and Gemma meet in Vancouver having a one night stand. Both of them feeling a connection with each other. Something that neither has felt before, something that can’t be real. Because love at first sight isn’t possible, doesn’t exist. But the pull to one another is undeniable, at least for Josh. It flips his world turning it upside down. One meeting changes him. As he begins to reflect on his life, he has this epiphany. He needs to spread his wings. Climb out of his box and explore. It never seemed real to him before but now he feels like he has no choice. Gemma opened his eyes.
Fueled by this newly awakened desire to live his life fully, Josh takes all his pennies and puts them towards a trip to Gemma’s home land, not knowing if he’ll ever see her again. That’s not necessarily the plan anyway. He’s traveling in order to explore and find himself. To figure out life and where he may or may not belong. It’s not really about Gemma. And yet it is. And what he gets is so much more because Where Sea Meets Sky isn’t only about falling in love. It’s about forging new friendships. Finding out that family isn’t always blood and that home may not be where you came from. Sometimes it’s thousands of miles away.
“I believe,” I say slowly, “that everyone you meet leaves an imprint on you. By the end of your life, that imprint has shaped who you are what life you’ve lived.” ~ Josh
Gemma is lost, figuratively speaking. She’s not coming or going, she’s just existing. She’s used to the status quo, there’s no fear in it. She’s content with not pushing her boundaries. That way she doesn’t have to feel or acknowledge those feelings. Josh only stirs up mixed emotions. He forces things to the surface and that’s no bueno. Plus a one night stand is called that for a reason. No strings. No expecations. Never gonna see you again. Staying numb feels good. Running into Josh in Auckland wasn’t on the menu. She didn’t order it and while happy to see him she doesn’t really want it either. However, she intentionally invites Josh to come along with her and her cousin, Amber on an adventure around the country. Josh eagerly agrees and so does Gemma’s man, Nick. Talk about complicated. But it wouldn’t be a good book without juicy complications. Complications is something Karina is good at writing about.
Karina Halle’s writing is fearless much like her characters in this story. She has the ability to take you to places you wouldn’t think to go on your own. Forcing you out of your comfort zone, sliding images and ideas of lush landscapes, brilliant blue waters, and deep dark caverns with freezing cold rushing rivers, leaving you in breathless awe and wonder. She till take you skydiving or hiking and you will actually feel the adrenaline rush, the air on your face, you’re senses become attuned to her words. I can only equate it to living dream or maybe like the holodeck on Star Trek (my inner nerd is peeking out). It’s something tangible and real. It becomes so much a part of the story that I’m not sure the plot would hold up without it. Her descriptive prose breathes life into the book.
“Will you destroy something before you have the chance to lose it?“
I’m not gonna lie and say I loved these characters. I really didn’t like Gemma at all. I tried and I often wondered if Karina wrote her like that on purpose. Make her hard to love, that way you can feel Gemma’s internal struggle within yourself. Maybe giving you a better appreciation for what’s happening in the story. I’m not sure. Gemma is nice enough and I get why she felt like she did. Maybe it was my connection to Josh that brought forth these feelings of ill will towards her. I wanted to protect this sweet man with tattoos and piercings. There’s something intriguing and enigmatic about the artistic boys, the nerds, they’re quietly sexy. We first met Josh in Love in English. If you read that one you can immediately understand his household dynamic. There’s dysfunction there and it’s holding them all back. Sometimes drastic measures are the ONLY way to break free. So I was protective of sweet caring Josh. I wanted to punch Gemma a few times. But for as much as I disliked her they needed each other. I’m convinced now that neither of them would have opened their eyes without one another. Every now and then we meet a person who changes us, usually it’s not someone we expected. And it almost always gets messy before it gets beautiful again.
On a side note, I always love that Karina writes a story where I can find a piece of myself. This time it was her uncle’s dog, Barker. Barker being my maiden name LOL I’m going to take that as a sign. Not sure what kind of sign…but a sign nonetheless..
“I think I ache for things I may never have. I long for purpose, for life, and yet sometimes I think I’m too afraid to live.” I pause. “Do you ever worry, that there’s something out there that you’re missing?“
Often, those things are right in front of you. You just need to see them.
*A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*
We motor away from the mountains and toward the cloud-filtered sunshine and rolling brown hills of the east. Lake Tekapo seems to be a popular stop, and as we get closer I can see why. The lake is even bluer than Pukaki was and the town along the banks is a pleasing slice of civilization.
But we don’t stop there like I thought we would. Gemma keeps driving until we come to a turn-off and then she’s gunning it toward the lake. On one side of us the road curves along pine trees and holiday homes; on the other there is a stream and a picturesque stone church surrounded by snap-happy tour bus groups.
At a gravel lot at the very end, not far from the shore, she angrily slams Mr. Orange into park and jumps out of the bus. Instinctively I do the same, jumping out after her.
As I stand there watching, I know the memory is being ingrained into my head. The van is still running and “Comfortably Numb” is blaring from the speakers as Gemma strips down to her underwear and runs to the edge of the lake. She’s barefoot and she doesn’t even slip on the rocks as she goes. She’s running from something, she’s running to something. The water will be ice cold.
It’s just what she wants. She wants to be numb.
I’ve listened to this album enough damn times now to know that “Run Like Hell” will play soon. So I do. I run like hell toward her. I leave Amber in the back of Mr. Orange, puttering on Lake Tekapo’s shore, and I’m sprinting toward the water, unwilling to let her out of my sight.
She’s already splashing into the water, like a mermaid returning to a kingdom of blue milk. If the cold is shocking her, she doesn’t show it, it doesn’t slow her down. The lake splashes around her in Technicolor brilliance, her darkly tanned skin shimmering from the reflection.
In seconds she is diving under and I hold my breath as my legs and blood pump me forward. I’m bizarrely, acutely, aware that she might not come up again. I think about what she told me, huddled in my rain jacket. I think I ache for things I may never get. I long for purpose, for life and yet sometimes I think I’m too afraid to live.
My fear is in not living.
We need to meet in the middle.
So I go into the lake after her. I’m stripped down to my boxers and T-shirt, my dusty jeans and flip-flops discarded somewhere between me and the bus, in a patch of purple and pink foxgloves.
It’s so cold I think I’m going to die. My lips open to yell, “Fuck me!” but my mouth is more intent on chattering my teeth together. Each step stabs stones into the soles of my feet and jagged knives of ice water into my legs until the feeling—all feeling—subsides.
I’m breathless, surrounded by ice blue, a color I’ve created myself when I’ve touched too much eggshell into too little cerulean. The shores are granite, a soft warm grey, peppered by the unimaginable greens and pinks of foxglove and whatever plants happen to spring up in this country. I’m swimming in a painting, numb, and I’m going for her, the bronze mermaid who wants to swim forever.
But she’s not mythical. She’s very real. It seems to take forever and eventually she breaks the surface, shrieking out in surprise and agony from the cold. It doesn’t numb her after all. Perhaps in this case, the number you are, the closer you are to death.
Though she swam for a while under, it doesn’t take me long to catch up with her. I used to be an avid swimmer for years.
“What the hell?” I say to her between chattering teeth, spitting out lake water.
She stares at me, wide-eyed, her head above the surface as she treads water. Her wet, dark hair is slicked back from her forehead, an inky wave between her shoulders, her cheekbones highlighted by sun and water.
“I told you I wanted to come here,” she says, as if suddenly abandoning your van and stripping to your underwear in public is the norm.
I can’t help but smile at how blasé she tries to be about it. “A little warning would be nice.”
“Don’t worry about me, Josh,” she says.
I pause because something in my heart has swelled. “But I do.”
Oh god, how I fucking ever.
She holds my gaze and my fingers itch to reach through the water and touch her. A few days ago I wouldn’t have, not in public like this. But I want to see just how numb she is.
My hand glides forward, sluicing through the water in slow motion until it rests on her light and silky waist.
She stares at me, her eyes glowing white against her brown irises, and her brows thread together in contemplation, as if she’s trying to unravel me, uncover some truth. I know something is bothering her and I know it’s about me more than anything else. It should be a good thing that it bothers her because it means she cares.
I want to tell her that she’s all I’ve ever wanted. I want to show her.
She relaxes into my touch for one sweet moment of victory before she slowly ducks her head under the water. I’m not sure what she’s doing so I take in a breath and submerge my head.
The cold shocks my face and when I open my eyes under water they seem to immediately freeze. Gemma is a hazy vision of pale blue, her hair swirling around her. She is so beautiful it makes my chest ache more than the cold does.
Her eyes hold mine and I see that yearning in them again. She reaches forward, grabbing my face and pulls my head toward her. She kisses me, full on the lips. It is so warm against the cold and I’m afraid I’m about to drown from happiness. I want this and I want more than this.
I don’t know how long the kiss lasts – we seem to float through time and space – but our bodies foolishly decide oxygen is equally as important. She breaks away and I am left sucking in ice water before I break through the surface.
I gasp in the dry air, fingers touching my lips as if I can’t believe it, but she’s back to the way she was before. Impassive. Immovable. Numb.