Author: Sara Biren
Release Date: April 4, 2017
Publisher: Amulet Books
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
*I received this book as a NetGalley ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. All opinions are my own. Thanks NetGalley!*
Last summer, Lucy's and Ben's lives changed in an instant. One moment, they were shyly flirting on a lake raft, finally about to admit their feelings to each other after years of yearning. In the next, Trixie--Lucy's best friend and Ben's sister--was gone, her heart giving out during a routine swim. And just like that, the idyllic world they knew turned upside down, and the would-be couple drifted apart, swallowed up by their grief. Now it's a year later in their small lake town, and as the anniversary of Trixie's death looms, Lucy and Ben's undeniable connection pulls them back together. They can't change what happened the day they lost Trixie, but the summer might finally bring them closer to healing--and to each other. --Goodreads
I fell victim to a pretty cover and a summary that pulled me in with this one. It wasn't all bad, but it wasn't all good either. Just kind of a middle of the road "meh."
Neither Ben nor Lucy were particularly likable to me, but I wrote it off for a good chunk of the book because we're dealing with serious grief and loss. That can make characters not very fun to be around, but I was rooting for them to find those days of sunshine again, both in themselves and in each other.
Only they never got more likable until the rushed ending of everything falling into place and finally saying "I love you." Lucy was immature and flaky, and Ben was just a downright jerk for 99 percent of the story. Ben admits to using girls at school for sex as means of escaping his own pain, while Lucy randomly finds herself in a relationship with Simon, an annoying (okay, I'm sure the author didn't intend for him to be so eye roll inducing, but he was) vacationer in their lakeside resort town.
The story is peppered with unrealistic dialogue and underdeveloped secondary characters who come across as cartoonish at best. Gutherie, Ben's best friend, is of Native American descent and is always described as brooding and quiet, but out of nowhere offers up sage wisdom or advice. It didn't feel right to me, almost like he was a stereotype and not a real person. Then there's Hannah, Lucy's new friend who moved to their town after Trixie died...Hannah was so ridiculous that she probably could have been left out of the story altogether and it would have been for the better.
Beautiful descriptions of the lake, wildlife, and quaint resort town add some color to the story, and the meaningful quotes about life, death, love, friendship, grief the author works into the story add much needed depth. Some of the character's coping methods of dealing with their grief, especially Ben and his father both struggling with alcohol abuse, were realistic and were worth exploring more than what the author allowed.
For a story that was supposed to be an exploration of love overcoming grief, I guess it did that in a rushed, jumbled mess within the last thirty pages.
Readers looking for a love story after a significant loss would be much happier with Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum.
Rating: 2.5 Stars. Disappointing.
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