Joni Underway

Nineteen year old Joni is loving life as an adult—living on her own, dealing with grown-up things like jobs, hook-ups, and doing her own laundry. Best of all: after finishing her first year at ASU, she will never again be called a freshman.

But when her brother is suddenly killed in a car accident, Joni’s adult life is turned upside down. Struggling to cope with loss, guilt, and anger—not to mention the meddling of friends and family trying to “fix” her—Joni is relieved to be presented with an escape in the form of a sailing trip her brother had been planning for months before he died.

With her first step onto the sailing vessel Lady Marguerite, Joni plunges into an adventure that will mark the beginning of her real adult life—a journey across the ominous dark blue of the Atlantic Ocean with a small, eccentric crew, and the young Captain Reid, whose gorgeous looks are only outmatched by his talent for care and kindness. Unfolding through the ups and downs of life at sea is an unforgettable story reminding us that love will always be a work-in-progress and coming of age never gets old.


This book is not your typical Kelly Oram read, which I guess makes sense, as it was co-written by both Kelly and her husband Jonathan Harrow. Most Kelly Oram books have a weighty subject delivered in a fun, witty tale, full of LOL moments, hilarious characters, ridiculous situations, and a few heavy bits here and there. This book is not like that. I was expecting it to get funny somewhere early in, but it didn’t take that typical Kelly turn.

Saying all of that, I found myself enjoying this book a lot.

Joni seems like an average 19-year-old, with all the regular issues in life. That is until her brother suddenly dies, and she is faced with the reality that she hasn’t spoken to him in 3 years although he lived 30 minutes away from her.

Trying to get away from all the hassle that she is facing, Joni boards the Lady Marguerite, and sails across the Atlantic on a trip originally planned for her brother. Aboard the boat she meets a mishmash of people, that at first glance have nothing in common.

Soon Joni does some real soul-searching and discovers that life is more than just fulfilling one’s own needs, all thanks to the kind example of the scrumptious Captain Reid.

This story is all about Joni really growing up. Not in the sense of a teenager learning to be more of an adult, but in the sense of  a young adult learning to be compassionate, learning to put others needs above his/her own. Joni learns through the many lessons of sailing a boat that the whole crews needs must come before your own, their safety and comfort is more important than your own.

She also learns to put her relationship with her mum and her brother into the right perspective, giving way to past hurt and anger, and being able to start anew again.

This book is a story of discovery, new beginnings, forgiveness, love, understanding, compassion and growth.

So as I said in the beginning, not your typical light read of weighty material, but more like real life sailing : moments of reflection, moments of smooth sailing, and moments of the occasional storms with heighted emotions and elevated anxiety. I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a read that will leave you reflective for days after completing the last page.



Kelly Oram - Jonathan Harrow

Kelly Oram wrote her first novel at age fifteen–a fan fiction about her favorite music group, The Backstreet Boys, for which her family and friends still tease her. She’s obsessed with reading, talks way too much, and likes to eat frosting by the spoonful. She lives outside of Phoenix, Arizona with her husband and four children.

Jonathan Harrow left a career in Hollywood to pursue his dream of writing novels. He has an author crush on Charlotte Bronte, and a real crush on his author wife, YA bestseller Kelly Oram. They live in Phoenix with their four kids and their cat, Mr. Darcy.

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