To Hear the Ocean Sigh by Bryant Loney
Published by Verona Booksellers
Publication Date: April 21, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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Jay Murchison believes he is a nobody at his high school in Oklahoma. Coming from a conservative family of affordable luxury, Jay has an overwhelming desire to become something great. After a mysterious girl named Saphnie in North Carolina mistakenly texts him, an unlikely relationship develops that affects Jay’s self-perception and influences the rest of his sophomore year. This correspondence leads him to a group of thrill-seekers who provide a grand departure from the quiet life Jay is familiar with and eye-opening experiences to witness first-hand the truth behind the loose morals his fellow classmates have come to know.
In a story filled with injustice, hope, hatred, love, grief, and understanding, readers will ask themselves what it truly means to hear the ocean sigh and learn of the dire consequences that come with its responsibilities.
First of all I have to say that in the past couple years I have read many Young Adult novels. I got started when my small-town library started running out of books for me to read. One day when coming up pretty empty-handed, the librarian suggested I try a couple YA books. I told her that I really didn’t have any desire to read books revolving around teenagers and all their drama, as I am a parent of a teenager myself and really don’t need to read about it – I LIVE it on a daily basis. Anyway, she talked me into trying a few, and I have to say that I have never looked back from that day. These books are nothing like I expected. Most of the ones I have read are beautifully written, poignant tales that stick in your head. I have discovered some amazing writers this way and I am glad that I gave the genre a chance as I would’ve missed out on a lot of great books.
To Hear The Ocean Sigh by Bryant Loney is my most recent read. I received an ebook copy in exchange for a review on The Book Binge, a blog where I am a guest reviewer. First, I would like to say that I liked how the author told the story with text messages and social media posts of all the characters. With this being such a big deal with every kid on the planet these days, I felt like this added to the whole reading experience, making it so much more appealing to the age group it is written about.
The main character Jay is basically your typical high school sophomore. He’s not a popular kid, doesn’t have a lot of friends, he’s not a trouble-maker, a brainiac or a jock. He is pretty much cruising through his high school experience like the rest of us did – below the radar. Jay finally gets a cell phone for his 16th birthday and is looking forward to being “connected” with other kids his age. One day he gets a random text sent by mistake from a girl named Saphnie who he doesn’t know. After he texts back to her explaining that he just got the phone and didn’t really have anyone to talk to, the two develop an unlikely friendship through their messages to each other. Jay begins to look forward to the texts he receives from Saphnie, and she becomes someone he relies on for not only her thoughts on life in general, but also her taste in literature and music as well. I felt that she gave him courage to break out of his rut and try things from a different perspective. He finally acquires some friends and starts to have a typical teenage life. Life seems to be looking up for our main character.
Now here is where it gets a little slow for me. I found myself having some trouble keeping myself engaged in the story at this point. I felt there was a lot of descriptive stuff that I was wading through that I could’ve done without. I got a little bored a couple times and would have to lay my tablet down for awhile. Now this doesn’t mean that I didn’t like the writing. This is Mr Loney’s first book after all, and he does a fine job. I just found myself becoming stalled in a couple of spots – it could just be me.
I have to also be honest at this point and admit that I really thought that I had the whole thing figured out by about the 5th chapter. Our little underdog was going to meet his female “texting buddy”, they would fall in love and live happily ever after. (Spoiler Alert) Well……that doesn’t happen. I got it all wrong. This is the point where it starts getting interesting. The story makes a sharp turn at this point and I am once again hooked.
The ending of To Hear The Ocean Sigh totally blew me away. Bravo to Mr Loney for bringing it home in the best way possible. You deserve serious kudo’s for that. This story covered so many different issues that all teens have dealt with for years. It doesn’t matter if you graduated in 1981 or 2014 – things really haven’t changed all that much. Every high school has a Jay Murchison. My school did and so will yours – it’s a given. I really enjoyed being able to experience this impressive coming-of-age story through the eyes of Jay. It was real and raw and honest.
I would like to thank the publisher as well as the author for giving me the chance to review this book. I think Bryant Loney has great potential and will appeal to readers who enjoy similar books by authors like John Green, Sarah Dessen, etc.