The novel is about the Sea of Santiago which appeared overnight in a cow pasture in Arkansas. Most people saw it as a miracle from God. But to high school sophomore A.Z. McKinney, it’s marked her chance to make history—as its first oceanographer. All she needs is to get out on the water. Her plan is easier said than done, considering the Sea’s eccentric owner is only interested in its use as a tourist destination for beachgoers and devout pilgrims. Still, A.Z. is determined to uncover the secrets of the Sea—even if it means smuggling saline samples in her bathing suit. Yet when a cute, conceptual artist named Kristoff moves to town, A.Z. realizes she may have found a first mate. Together, they make a plan to build a boat and study the Sea in secret.
For about the first half of the book I had a hard time getting into it because well….not very much happens. Also the sentence structure/ point of view of the story is confusing at first but I caught on after a couple of chapters.
I actually really liked this book. First of all, A.Z. is a great character. She is angsty without being contrite, she truly loves and cares about her relationships with people (i.e. her family), and I think that she understands how mundane everything that is happening around her in rural, Bible belt Arkansas in the 1980s. A.Z.’s point of view allows the reader to appreciate the satire that Teague is trying to achieve with each and every one of her characters. For example: The character Sahara who is A.Z’s earth-and-animal-and-human rights-loving friend who protests literally everything and declares everything that is happening in the world to be “intense” (“being an Aligator is intense.”). I found all of these caricatures to be hilarious, except for one. Kristoff is A.Z’s sort of boyfriend. He is tall and handsome and mysterious and new to town. Throughout the novel his flaky and artistic whims become more and more exaggerated as he slowly captures then breaks A.Z.’s heart. The only downfall of this book was its missed opportunity at addressing the clear mental illness that Kristoff suffers from (OR he really is just a huge jerk). I just thought it was odd that A.Z. wasn’t disturbed by his obvious mental degradation.
All in all, great book. Different, funny, and smart.