Turtle Under Ice | A Review

Hiya everyone! Today I’ll be reviewing Turtle Under Ice by Juleah del Rosario. This is actually the first time I’m reviewing a book written in verse. Without further ado, let’s get into it!

Turtle Under Ice by Juleah del Rosario

Rowena feels like her family is a frayed string of lights that someone needs to fix with electrical tape. After her mother died a few years ago, she and her sister, Ariana, drifted into their own corners of the world, each figuring out in their own separate ways how to exist in a world in which their mother is no longer alive. But then Ariana disappears under the cover of night in the middle of a snowstorm, leaving no trace or tracks. When Row wakes up to a world of snow and her sister’s empty bedroom, she is left to piece together the mystery behind where Ariana went and why, realizing along the way that she might be part of the reason Ariana is gone. Haunting and evocative—and told in dual perspectives—Turtle Under Ice examines two sisters frozen by grief as they search for a way to unthaw.

I usually read books in verse if I’m trying to get out of a slump. However, I just picked this one up spontaneously. And I’m happy that I did! Turtle Under Ice is a story full of emotion and the will to just push on. It oozes out with sisterly love, and tells us that we should always be grateful for our parents.

The story follows sisters Ariana and Rowena. It’s told through both their perspectives and is done astonishingly well. Despite disliking Ariana, I can 100% understand where she’s coming from. Ariana wants to be an older sister Rowena can look up to, but she knows she’s failing that role. I found this to be incredibly touching and relatable. Ariana is also a creative, and uses her art to cope. She actually does her summative art project on grief. Meanwhile, Rowena, or Row, uses soccer as an escape from her heartache. What really broke me is that Row sees her mother on the field when she plays. The reason behind this is that her mom was always so busy, that she could never attend any of her soccer matches. Furthermore, I ADORED the sibling dynamic. It perfectly captured the fact that no matter what happens in life, they’ll always have each other, and it was just the sweetest thing!

“Maybe hope is like a turtle under ice
breathing through its shell,
through its biochemistry, still alive. Maybe hope waits for spring to come, for the ice to thaw
for the weight of the pond that encapsulates us to melt into nothing. But maybe we are not meant to wait for springtime.
Maybe, instead, we are meant
to break the ice
and be free.”

― Juleah del Rosario, Turtle Under Ice

In addition, through the dialogue we got to see how Ariana interacts with other people. The way she talked to people with no care in the word was quite interesting. Aside from that, there wasn’t much dialogue. Instead, there were more monologues, which brings me to the writing!

“There was no right time for my mother to die,
because when someone we loves dies,
it will always be untimely”
― Juleah del Rosario, Turtle Under Ice

Juleah del Rosario’s writing is truly beautiful. Turtle Under Ice is written in verse, and is done exquisitely. The author creates such vivid yet depressing scenes that will make you want to read on! It’s absolutely stunning, and isn’t overly metaphorical or unclear.

Overall, Turtle Under Ice is a quick and emotional read perfect for those who are looking for a moving story on familial relationships and grief.

Age Rating: 14 and up

TW: Death of a parent (off page but talked about a lot), miscarriage, main character runs away from home

Final Rating: 7/10 or 3.5 stars

⭐⭐⭐⭐

What’s your favorite novel written in verse? Have a lovely day, and thank you for reading!

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