For those teens and adults that enjoy travel and awesome food descriptions with some great drama thrown into the mix, Tammar Stein's new novel is perfect. When I was first sent this book and read the description, I was instantly hooked, as I am one of those that loves a combination like this. The writing is great, the emotion is very real, and the settings are magnificent.
High Dive is the story of Arden, an incredibly mixed up and lonely girl that is incredibly talented at putting on a happy face. Her father died in a car accident and her mother has recently been deployed to Iraq to fight the war, leaving Arden to take on the task of closing up the family vacation home in Sardinia. The house holds some of Arden's best memories of her family when they were still whole, together, and happy and she is having a difficult time allowing herself to begin the letting go process. While on the plane to Sardinia, she meets three girls from Texas, traveling to Paris for a vacation and Arden decides to join them, a very non-Arden thing to do. The girls learn about each other while exploring Paris, though Arden often feels like a fourth wheel. She can't decide if these girls are helping her to let go of the thoughts of her old family life or if they are only making her long for it more. By the end, not only does Arden get the answer to this question, she also learns more about herself, her strength, and her ability to grow than she ever thought possible.
The country descriptions alone will grab the reader, but Arden's fragile emotional state is the true shining star in this book. I felt connected to her immediately and wanted to know everything she knew. Strong, yet vulnerable characters that come across as beautifully lost as Arden do not come along nearly as often as we would all like, but if you pick High Dive up for yourself or a teen, you will not be sorry. I loved it and know a lot of you will as well.