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Shelter the Sea (The Roosevelt) by Heidi Cullinan – Book Review

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shelter the sea

“The problem is, a lot happens when people don’t regard you as a real person. They think they can ignore you, and worse, they think they can use you.”

When I read Carry the Ocean two years ago, I loved it from the bottom of my heart. The book and its characters lingered with me for a long time. It felt incredible seeing someone with anxiety facing daily challenges and coming out stronger. Every time I dealt with anxiety in my own life, I remembered Jeremey, and I felt comforted, knowing I was not alone. This is the kind of impact books can have on people. For that reason, and many others, I adore this series.

Shelter the Sea is the sequel following Emmet and Jeremey from the first book. It follows the events right after the ending, and it explores a more political struggle overall. Emmet has a great job and Jeremey is still David’s aide, and the two of them are still in a very loving, healthy relationship. But problems arise when the building they live in, The Roosevelt, faces financial difficulties. This is the story about how Emmet, Jeremey, David, and now Darren–their lovely new friend–work together to help the Roosevelt, and fight to stop a bill that would only harm people with special needs and mental health problems.

Getting back into this world after two years was a breeze. I instantly remembered every character and their unique personalities, along with most of the major events from the first book. This is unusual for me because I usually forget what I read, even if I love it more than anything. Reliving Emmet and Jeremey’s love was the sweetest thing ever. Even though I had already loved them before, I grew to love them even more in this book. Emmet became the face of their public fight, and he was a hero to many other people with autism. Regardless of the level of difficulties he faced, Emmet shone through until the very end. I was so proud of him. And of course, Jeremey was not left behind. His depression got really bad, and it was a fight that seemed impossible, until it wasn’t. I was relieved to know he was getting better.

There’s a lot of diversity in this book, which I really appreciated. I love the issues Cullinan discussed so bluntly, things that shouldn’t just be brushed over. The political issues resonated with me the most, especially because in our current political climate, people with mental health issues and disabilities rank lower than most people. The message spread in this book is one of inclusivity and hope for equality.

“To be honest the fact that we had to lip sync and dance and I had to keep giving speeches and put Darren’s and my autism and David’s quadriplegia and Jeremey’s social anxiety on display to get people’s attention made me realize how much people had been ignoring us all this time.”

The addition of Darren to the group made me so happy. I loved that Darren was given a voice even though he struggled with verbal speech. Rather than simply pushing him aside, he was given the spotlight a few times, and his intelligence was put to good use. I’m looking forward to rest of the books in the series, which will follow David and Darren closely. I really want a happy ending for all of my Roosevelt Blues Brothers. They’re some of my favorite characters of all time.