My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Have you ever been to one of those beach vacation destinations that are packed during the summer, but very quiet during the off-months? You can rent a beach house for a fraction of the price. The grocery stores are deserted and half of the local shops are closed until further notice. These beach cities become a ghost town without their main source of revenue (i.e. tourists) away for a short time.
Gwen Castle lives in such a place. She works at her father’s burger stand, dreaming of the time when she can finally leave Seashell Island. If she can’t, it’s likely she’ll spend the rest of her life cleaning mansions alongside her harried mother. There is also a bitter divide between the working-class people who live in Seashell and their richer, (predictably) snobby counterparts. Gwen wishes she could get away from the choices she has made, specifically regarding Cass. And she’s ready to get away from her reputation.
And get away from him she cannot.
Gwen takes a job as a helper/companion/compadre to Mrs. Ellington, who has Gwen read her dirty romance novels at a very loud volume on the back porch. (Unless you have a cold Vulcan heart, you’ll laugh at this.) While reading these bodice-ripping words, Cass appears. He’s Mrs. Ellington’s lawn boy for the summer.
But don’t let that fool you. This is a book about a girl who likes a boy, but it’s also about mistakes and loving families. It’s honest and it’s a little sad. And it’s written significantly better than a lot of YA fiction. I would classify this as a “beach read,” but it’s not shallow.
And that was as refreshing as I imagine the sea breeze in Seashell be.
One last thing: Cass’ passion for cartography (even going so far as to pursue it in college) kept reminding me of Buster Bluth. Because really, hasn’t everything kind of already been discovered, Cass? By like, Magellan and Cortez?