It took me a while to get into Tammar Stein’s novel High Dive, but once I did, I found it to be a pleasant read. Arden has just completed her freshman year at Vanderbilt and is traveling to Sardinia for the summer. This is not just a typical summer vacation, though. She is charged with the task of selling her family’s vacation home. Her father died a few years ago, and her mother is serving as a nurse in Iraq, so this task falls to Arden. She’s less than thrilled about packing up and selling a place that meant so much to her family, but she embarks on this journey anyway.
Along the way, Arden meets three girls from Texas who invite her to change her path a bit. Instead of traveling the route she had planned, she decides to visit Paris with them and have something of a summer vacation to cope with the stress of the past few years. But traveling with three other nineteen-year-olds is not without its stresses, as Arden soon learns.
While Arden is traveling, she also reflects on times spent with her parents, past travels, her mother’s deployment, her father’s death, and her first love. This is a sometimes painful, but often therapeutic, process that helps Arden to grow as a person and learn that being independent doesn’t mean you can’t form lasting friendships with the people you encounter. Read High Diveby Tammar Stein to see how Arden learns to live her life by just diving in.
I enjoyed High Dive more than I thought I would at the beginning. While I still feel it’s a bit unrealistic that a teenager would travel to Europe by herself to sell her family’s vacation home (I know most of my students won’t be able to relate to this), I found Arden’s journey and growth in the novel to be things that anyone could relate to.