By Laura Silverman
Rating: 4 smiley faces
Publication Date: May 1st 2017 (that’s right people, I’ve finally read an ARC)
Challenges Fulfilled: Read Harder Challenge
Goodreads Summary: Anise Sawyer plans to spend every minute of summer with her friends: surfing, chowing down on fish tacos drizzled with wasabi balsamic vinegar, and throwing bonfires that blaze until dawn. But when a serious car wreck leaves her aunt, a single mother of three, with two broken legs, it forces Anise to say goodbye for the first time to Santa Cruz, the waves, her friends, and even a kindling romance, and fly with her dad to Nebraska for the entire summer.
Living in Nebraska isn’t easy. Anise spends her days caring for her three younger cousins in the childhood home of her runaway mom, a wild figure who’s been flickering in and out of her life since birth, appearing for weeks at a time and then disappearing again for months, or even years, without a word.
Complicating matters is Lincoln, a one-armed, charismatic skater who pushes Anise to trade her surfboard for a skateboard. As Anise draws closer to Lincoln and takes on the full burden and joy of her cousins, she loses touch with her friends back home – leading her to one terrifying question: will she turn out just like her mom and spend her life leaving behind the ones she loves
If you guys have been paying any attention to this blog, you’ll probably come to realize that YA is not exactly my favorite genre. In fact, I even wrote a full post about it here. But, despite that, you can never go wrong with one when you’re in a lighthearted mood and want a fairly simple book to read. I had no expectations going into this book, but a came out very happy and somewhat surprised with how much I enjoyed the read.
First off, let me say that I was shocked that Silverman is a debut author. I thought the way she put together the plotline, characters, everything, was fabulous. The basic plot of the story is that a surfer chick named Anise leaves the home she promised she would never leave to go help out her family in Nebraska. Needless to say, this is hard for her, since she’s a senior and it will be her last summer with her friends, not to mention the fact that she NEVER EVER left California. It’s her home and she doesn’t feel the need to go anywhere else. Complicating matters is the fact that Anise’s mother constantly flies in and out of her life, with no need to tell anyone where she is and when she is coming or going. And Anise HATES IT.
Overall, I think Silverman did a great job of incorporating everything into the plotline without making it overly boring, or anything seem too dramatic. The plot was moving and changing enough so that the reader was constantly interested, but yet it slowed down at all the right moments. The way the plot moved made everything seem realistic in a book where just one thing being a little more exaggerated would have sent it from great to cheesy and dramatic.
There were quite a few characters in this book, but I think it’s most important to point out the fact that all of them felt real, and were relatable. Anise, the main character, was literally perfect athletically, but she had flaws in other ways, and although she didn’t admit them to others, the way the book was written gave you an in depth look at them, and I think that helped make her relatable. Plus, she’s tall, so #TallGirlClub (yes, yes, that did actually make me way too happy when I read about it).
The other characters in the book were equally as relatable and fun to hear about. Parker and Nash (Anise’s little cousins) were SUPER energetic, and reminded me of all of the children I have to babysit. Lincoln, the black, one armed skater boy, made me fall in love the second I heard about him. All of Anise’s friends from Santa Cruz (especially Tess)– LOVE!
The one character I had a slight problem with was Emery. Emery is Anise’s 13 (14 maybe?) year old cousin, and I thought she acted wayyyyy too old for her age. I mean, 13 puts you in middle school, and I’m 90% sure she was in 8th grade. The fact that she was always locked in her room and hung out alone with her friends at the park seemed unrealistic given her age. But maybe that’s just because I’m a nerd and don’t have friends. That being said, regardless of the age-reality issue she was still well developed.
Reasons I loved It…
Anise was such a badass, relatable character that she pulled me through the entire time. It was fun to read about her, and basically I want to be her.
Of course, no YA book review is complete without mentioning the relationship– Lincoln and Anise were SO FREAKIN’ CUTE TOGETHER!! I laughed out loud so often, and awwwwed equally as much because it was just one of the cutest relationships ever, and I would totally recommend the book just because of that.
This is hard, because there were no standout “Yuck” parts of the book. However, there’s a reason that it didn’t get 5 stars, and so I need to include this part for completion’s sake. Sometimes, I felt like there was too much going on with Anise to keep track of. I mean, you could easily keep track of it, but she just had so many conflicting emotions and although that drew me in for a lot of it, at other times it sort of pushed me away because towards the start-middle (aka the ⅓ marker) I was feeling “oh no, here we go again, Anise complaining about her shitty life” but I didn’t feel that way a lot, and I think there was great character building going on.
The main reason that this didn’t get a 5 is because it wasn’t a can’t-put-down read until about halfway through. I mean, it was amazing the whole time, but I wasn’t walking around with my book pressed to my nose until then. And for a book to really be deserving of 5 stars, it needs to do that for me.
So obviously I don’t think I could give it a 5 star diversity rating without a minority protagonist, but I think I’ll have to go with 4 stars on this one. Lincoln was black and had one arm and his father was Vietnamese, Wendy (very very small part) was Asian, and Marie and Cassie (Anise’s friends) were lesbian. Although the majority of these people were not main characters at all, I think the book community should appreciate Silverman’s effort to at least represent these people and make sure that everyone knows they exist. It’s especially important that it was never a big deal that these people were different. It just was. And that’s how books with diverse characters should be, in my opinion.
I highly recommend to anyone, especially lovers of YA. There was a strong kindling-teen-romance and emotional teen theme throughout, and for me that’s what made it so relatable. The characters were real, and I think everyone can see that while they read.
This guest review was contributed by Write Through the Night. Joce offers regular author interviews in addition to book reviews, and keeps a book review index and an author interview index.