Altebrando, Tara. The Opposite of Here. Bloomsbury YA, 2018. 256p. ISBN: 9781681197067. $22.99. HS, OT ***
Wherever she happens to be, Natalie always finds herself wishing she were somewhere else. When her parents take her and several friends on a birthday cruise, Natalie finds it hard to enjoy the “sail-a-bration,” especially just a few months after her boyfriend’s unexpected death. After she meets a cute guy on the boat who inexplicably disappears, Natalie finds herself wrapped up in figuring out what’s behind this mysterious guy, his brother, and what exactly is going on this cruise.
Putting aside some deep plot questions (including the question of what parents can afford to send their teenage daughter and her friends on a week-long cruise), the book is highly readable with many plot twists and shades of intrigue that keeps you reading. The book seems to have all the ingredients of an appealing story: diverse characters, a fancy cruise ship, a birthday celebration, and even nods to Albert Hitchcock, yet the pieces do not all come together for a satisfying narrative. The Opposite of Here is a compelling enough, if forgettable, read for high school teens.
-Megan Keane, San Mateo County Libraries