Content Warning/Trigger Warning – suicide and self-harm
Float Plan left me speechless after finishing it – something that rarely happens. This story and the journey Anna goes on was so beautiful that I literally was in awe after finishing the book.
Despite its sunny cover and the marketing as a romance, this book is heavy. It’s not some light-hearted sailing romp throughout the Caribbean, and if you open the book you know this as it starts out with content warning (which honestly is so nice to see). About 10 months after Anna’s fiancé Ben died by suicide, Anna gets a reminder on her phone for the day they were supposed to leave on a boat trip to sail through the Caribbean. Still grieving, Anna decides she’s going to embark on the journey Ben and her were supposed to take together by herself. Not a super experienced sailor, she falls asleep and almost crashes into another boat on the first leg of the journey prompting her to hire Keane to help with the rest of the trip. Together, they make their way through the Caribbean and grow to care for one enough and come to terms with their own issues along the way.
Trish Doller is an incredibly masterful writer and is able to tackle serious subject matter with such finesse that your heart aches for her characters. I’ve been a huge fan of her work since her YA debut Something Like Normal which also dealt with some pretty heavy subject matter. In Float Plan, Anna’s grief is so painful and anyone who has lost someone close to them, especially by such a terrible way such as suicide, can relate to the pain and doubt and struggles Anna has. Watching Anna’s journey throughout the book and seeing her learn to live with the grief and realize it’s okay to love again and find happiness literally brought me tears of joy. I cannot remember the last time I cried happy tears at the ending of the book, but I was so dang proud of how far Anna came. She was a shell of herself at the beginning of the book and throughout her trip and thanks to Keane, she found something to give her hope and joy that would help her live with and honor the memory of Ben but also allow her to be okay with finding love and happiness with someone else. I loved how at the end Anna’s definitely not 100% okay and hasn’t fully “moved on” from her grief, but she’s come to terms with it in a way where she can be happy and it doesn’t consume her.
One thing I love about this book and Doller’s writing in general is how she is able to balance the serious with the romance. It’s not easy to have a romance feel authentic in a book that deals with such heavy topics like suicide, but because her characters are so richly crafted, the romances always just work. I loved Keane almost as much as I loved Anna. I feel like Keane came into Anna’s life at the perfect moment (literally), and I loved how he didn’t judge her or fault her for her feelings. I loved seeing Anna and Keane’s relationship progress over the book and I loved that he didn’t rush her or push her into a relationship when he knew she wasn’t ready. He was fine with being there for support and waiting until she had come to terms with having a new relationship before taking any action – a true gentleman. Like Anna, Keane was also hurting and grieving, albeit for a very different reason, but that didn’t discount his own pain. I loved how Anna was able to see his hurt, could understand it, and wanted to do what she could to protect him from it. The romance felt so natural between the two of them, and it was definitely more of a slow burn romance. As with any romance, there is always something that has to come between the couple or split them up, and that definitely happened for Keane and Anna, but there was no drama involved. It also showed how far Anna came as she was able to let Keane go as she knew it was right for him and that she could survive without him. I love that Keane and Anna splitting up wasn’t a bad thing and actually served as a huge turning point for Anna and a marker of how strong she is and how far she came.
On a more light-hearted note, this book also gave me such wanderlust. Probably doesn’t help that we’re a year into a global pandemic and haven’t been able to travel, but it was so fun hearing about all the different places Anna and Keane got to visit and all the amazing experiences they got to have on these small islands in the Caribbean. I can honestly say I never saw the appeal of sailing or living on a boat before reading this book, but it seems like such a unique and exciting experience that I feel like I’m more open to that idea now.
If you’re looking for a light-hearted, summer beach read, this book likely isn’t for you. I feel like a lot of people might shy away from this story just given how heavy it is, but I encourage you to check it out. It’s definitely not the easiest of reads, but the story is an incredible portrayal of grief and learning to love again that is highly worth your time. It’s such a beautiful and real story that will make you feel so many emotions – it was a reading experience I won’t soon forget.