A Map for Wrecked girls by Jessica Taylor
Published by Penguin on August 15, 2017
Genres: young adult, contemporary
We sat at the edge of the ocean—my sister Henri and I—inches apart but not touching at all. We’d been so sure someone would find us by now.
Emma had always orbited Henri, her fierce, magnetic queen bee of an older sister, and the two had always been best friends. Until something happened that wrecked them.
I’d trusted Henri more than I’d trusted myself. Wherever she told me to go, I’d follow.
Then the unthinkable occurs—a watery nightmare off the dazzling coast. The girls wash up on shore, stranded. Their only companion is Alex, a troubled boy agonizing over his own secrets. Trapped in this gorgeous hell, Emma and Alex fall together as Emma and Henri fall catastrophically apart.
For the first time, I was afraid we’d die on this shore.
To find their way home, the sisters must find their way back to each other. But there’s no map for this—or anything. Can they survive the unearthing of the past and the upheaval of the present?
I was kindly sent an e-arc of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
A Map for Wrecked Girls was a quick addictive read that I devoured in three days. A dual-timeline story about love, sisters and survival, that is unlike anything that I’ve read previously.
The setting was one of the more prominent aspects of A Map for Wrecked Girls, the chapters that were focused on present time as they were stuck on a deserted island were wholly intriguing. I can’t think of any books I’ve read that revolve around a group of shipwrecked individuals, and the harsh wilderness of the island was brutal but made for some excellent suspense. The characters had to scavenge for food and water, attempt to build a make-shift shelter and on-top of all of this, the island was populated with ravenous vicious caiman lurking in the underbrush.
The novel revolves around three main characters, Henri, Alex and the protagonist Emma. However, the book truly focuses on Henri and Emma and their sisterly bond, through past and present. Emma and Henri are sisters that share an inseparable connection, Henri being the oldest is the leader of the two, always in the limelight and seeking attention, she is the ultimate wild child. She parties constantly, drinks alcohol, has sex and flirts with almost every boy she gets in contact with, and of course, Emma gets dragged along the entire way. Emma is quite the opposite of Henri, she’s more reserved, more responsible and is more for Henri than herself. Throughout the years Emma has just become Henri’s little sidekick, losing her sense of self and always relying on Henri. I didn’t enjoy seeing how dependent Emma was on Henri, especially since Henri was a terrible influence. Despite Henri’s radiant confidence, I could sense that she indeed had some underlying self-esteem issues that she glazed over with her mask of self-assuredness, and this became more apparent on the island. Henri wasn’t my favourite character, I disagreed with a lot of the things she did and she became quite obnoxious on the island, distancing herself from Emma and Alex and even refusing to help them try and escape the island and get back home. You can’t hide anything on the island, it reveals all your vulnerabilities and it ultimately changes you. Watching Emma adapt to the island, having to sharpen her survival skills, she gradually broke free of Henri’s reign. She grew magnificently into her own, developed person and began to think for herself more often. Alex, a guy Emma and Henri just met prior to them being stranded on the island, is a strong independent character, however, he, of course, also had issues of his own that he needed to seek to resolve.
During their time on the island, Emma and Alex’s relationship begins to develop into something more. I loved seeing Emma branch out and get involved in her own relationship with Alex, and how natural their connection seemed. However, I wouldn’t say I was swooning over Alex and having heart eye emojis over their relationship.
The plot wasn’t a huge factor of the novel, as it mostly followed the relationships between Emma, Henri and Alex. The plot wasn’t overly fascinating, in the chapters set in the past we saw the events leading up to the incident, a lot to do with Henri and her rash decisions and making a mess of her life. On the island, I would say I found it more interesting as I enjoyed the survival aspect and the suspense that it brought with it.
This novel definitely wasn’t a happy, fluffy story. It dealt with some serious issues including alcohol, divorce, death, drug dealing and money, sex, sexual assault and sexual relationships between students and teachers. I was actually quite surprised at the amount of relevant and significant topics within this book, and I don’t think there many novels involving sexual relationships between students and teachers.
Overall, A Map for Wrecked Girls is an enjoyable novel surrounding two sisters and a boy, their relationship and their survival on a deserted island. This book certainly wasn’t life-altering or heavily impactful, but it’s a fast-paced read that you’ll end up flying through!