Audience: Young adult contemporary
Length: 440 pages
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: June 4th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads
Emma Saylor doesn’t remember a lot about her mother, who died when she was ten. But she does remember the stories her mom told her about the big lake that went on forever, with cold, clear water and mossy trees at the edges.
Now it’s just Emma and her dad, and life is good, if a little predictable…until Emma is unexpectedly sent to spend the summer with her mother’s family—her grandmother and cousins she hasn’t seen since she was a little girl.
When Emma arrives at North Lake, she realizes there are actually two very different communities there. Her mother grew up in working class North Lake, while her dad spent summers in the wealthier Lake North resort. The more time Emma spends there, the more it starts to feel like she is divided into two people as well. To her father, she is Emma. But to her new family, she is Saylor, the name her mother always called her.
Then there’s Roo, the boy who was her very best friend when she was little. Roo holds the key to her family’s history, and slowly, he helps her put the pieces together about her past. It’s hard not to get caught up in the magic of North Lake—and Saylor finds herself falling under Roo’s spell as well.
For Saylor, it’s like a whole new world is opening up to her. But when it’s time to go back home, which side of her will win out?
VERY CHARACTER DRIVEN.
This was very different than the previous four (maybe five?) Dessen novels I have read. Not in a bad way, just different.
This was heavily character driven and was a bit of a long book. It took a bit to get into because I didn’t know when it really began. I kept looking for a love story that I didn’t see. Once I realized that this was going to much deeper levels than that, I was able to get on board.
NOW, not to say there wasn’t a little bit of romance. Saylor does meet someone, and things end well. It isn’t the forefront of the novel though. The big focus is on Saylor and her growth over the summer. After a family tragedy she grows up not really remembering having spent any time there when she was younger. Her time spent on the lake allows her the opportunity to learn about her mother’s family. She’s able to reconnect with so many people and learn through them about her mother and more.
Saylor changes a lot over the course of the novel and helps her Dad do the same. He was a bit more stubborn (because of grief) and she is able to help him release the tension he had been carrying way too long. At times I would be upset with her Dad because I couldn’t grasp WHY he couldn’t relax a little. By the end, the rest of the story is out and we’re able to understand the decisions at play.
Lots of lasting re-kindlings with family are made and has given Saylor back apart of her life she didn’t realize how much she needed.
Overall audience notes:
- Young adult contemporary
- Language: a little strong language
- Romance: a few kisses
- Violence: mentions of a boat crash (off screen) and a sailing boat capsizes
- Trigger warnings: alcoholism, drug abuse, off-screen heroine overdose, underage drinking, loss of a loved one