Phantom Limbs (Spoiler Free!) Review

“When I finally heard from Meg, it was May, historically her month of choice for upending my universe.”

-Paula Garner, Phantom Limbs

Hey guys! Not too long ago, I was sent a copy of this YA standalone contemporary by Walker Books to read and review. (Thank you very much!) I was expecting it to be sad, perhaps bittersweet, and at times, an emotional read. And while it was all of those things, it was also happy. And light. And sweet. It was the kind of book that, while being infused with heart and challenging subject areas, also held cute moments that made me smile, and would be perfect reading on lazy, hazy summer days. Preferably poolside. Or lakeside.


Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner is narrated from the POV of Otis. Otis used to be best friends with Meg, their families went on joint holidays, their lives inseparable from one another’s. Until there was an accident, one that severed the bond between families, and caused Meg’s family to move away. That was three years ago. Now, Otis is coached by Dara, who is determined to make him into an Olympic swimmer, the swimmer she can’t be anymore after her own accident. His life has fallen into a regular rhythm. Until he receives the news that Meg is coming back to town. Buried feelings come back at once, along with horrible truths, and Otis doesn’t know if he and Meg can find their way back to each other again.

The characters in this book are brilliantly conceived; Dara struggles from PTSD and phantom limb pains following her accident, while Otis and Meg are still grieving, (TW for PTSD and grief), but the overall atmosphere is beautifully hopeful. We see their highs and lows, and their experiences of dealing with these issues while also being in high school, and all that that entails. The dialogue is great at capturing their interactions with each other, and is often funny, sweet or raw. I felt like this book was a really touching read and I flew through it, faster than I expected! It was more gripping than I thought it would be and I was hooked very early on. 4/5 stars and I recommend it to fans of contemporary YA, especially ones that deal with more difficult issues.

Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner is out in the UK on 1st June, published by Walker Books.

Who else enjoys reading YA contemporaries?


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