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Archive for the ‘Surfing’ Category

Ms. LaCour can pack a lot into three days, which is the time span of her latest novel, We Are Okay.  (By the way, it only took me two days to read, it’s that engrossing.) Mabel’s mother died when she was  young and she lived with her grandfather, each having their own bedroom and sharing the common space of the kitchen, living room and dining room. Respecting each other’s privacy, neither ventured into the inner sanctum of the other.

But one summer day after high school graduation, Gramps doesn’t answer when Marin comes home. Busy with summer fun and new girlfriend, Mabel, Marin has pretty much ignored Gramps, minimizing his failing health. Fearing the worst, Marin enters her grandfather’s bedroom, which actually consists of a sitting room and adjoining room and discovers something she never thought existed and which changed her opinion of Gramps forever.

The police are called and a shaken Marin is taken to the police station but rather than go home with Mabel’s parents (who are almost like a second set of parents) she slips out the back door and boards a bus from California to upstate New York and college with nothing but the shirt on her back, her cell phone and her debit card, even though school doesn’t start for two weeks. She ignores Mabel’s frantic texts for weeks before they dwindle into non-existence.

However, Mabel hasn’t given up and visits Marin at school for three days over Christmas break, which is where the story unfolds.

Through the action of the present and flashbacks to the previous summer, readers understand the torture that these two young women underwent, the loss of a grandparent, the loss of a friend. But it also reinforces the concept of family which is not just biological commonality. Mabel and Marin are endearing characters. You like them immediately. Their pain is understandable. The awkwardness of their reunion is palpable.

We Are Okay is both happy and sad and wonderful. And should you like it, don’t forget Everything Leads to You and Hold Still.

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IfYoureLuckyBoth the readers and George (short for Georgia), the protagonist of Yvonne Prinz’s latest engrossing entrée into YA Fiction, If You’re Lucky, aren’t quite sure where reality ends and George’s scrambled mind takes over. Lucky, George’s older brother, was killed in a surfing accident in Australia. Considering he was an excellent surfer, George can’t grasp that it was an accident. To her it resembled drowning in an inch of water, possible, but not probable.

A bunch of Lucky’s friends congregate at George’s California home for a party, not a memorial service, because Lucky would prefer it that way.  When one of the friends, Fin, decides to stay in the sleepy little town and ingratiates himself into Lucky’s family (even Lucky’s dog, Rocket, is enamored of Fin) and starts seeing Lucky’s girlfriend Sonia, George becomes suspicious. Was Lucky’s death an accident or murder? Does Fin want Lucky’s life? Unfortunately for George, her grasp on reality is fragile, and no one is willing to take her warnings seriously.

Reading If You’re Lucky conjured up memories of Gail Giles’ excellent book Dead Girls Don’t Write Letters, another psychological drama. On the outside all appears normal but on the inside something is amiss.

I could not put If You’re Lucky down, especially as I got closer to the end. Prinz, author of Vinyl Princess and All You Get is Me, does a great job putting readers in the mind of a schizophrenic to the point reality and fantasy merge in both George’s and the reader’s minds.

If you’re looking for a great book, If You’re Lucky should definitely be on the list.

 

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Emmy and Oliver were best friends since birth. They were born on the same day in the same hospital (their basinets were next to each other) and they lived next door to each other. Their bedrooms faced each other and at night, they would each blink their light when it was bedtime. Emmy, Oliver, Caro (Caroline, but no one ever called her that) and Drew were an inseparable quartet.

When they were seven years old, Oliver disappeared. His father, Keith, kidnapped him. His mother, Maureen, was frantic and tried everything she could to find him, with no luck. After the initial news media frenzy, the public lost interest and things got back to normal, as normal as they could be under the EmmyAndOlivercircumstances. Emmy continued being friends with Caro and Drew. However, Emmy’s parents became over protective of their only child, prohibiting her from doing many things young kids did, forcing on her an early bedtime. As a result, she ended up hiding a lot from her parents.

When she was 17, Oliver returned. The problem with that was several fold: (a) Maureen had remarried and had twin girls, (b) she remembered Oliver as a seven year old boy and that’s who she expected to return and (c) Emmy and Caro and Drew had 10 years of memories, inside jokes and dreams of which Oliver was not a part.

Robin Benway covers a lot in Emmy and Oliver. Most people think of the anguish of parents losing a child to kidnapping. And when we think of kidnapping, as in the news media, it is always children hidden away and brutalized. In Emmy and Oliver, Keith treated Oliver well and after Oliver got over the initial shock of a missing mother, he had a relatively normal life. Yet, thrust back into his mother’s life and home was traumatic for both parent and child.

Benway does a great job of verbalizing the impact of Oliver’s return on everyone, Maureen and her young twins, Emmy, Caro and Drew and especially Oliver. I’m not giving anything away by saying the Emmy & Oliver is a love story. There are some loves that do stand the test of time and separation. But it’s more than that. It’s the story of awakening from a 10 year slumber to find out that things aren’t the same as when you drifted off to sleep…for everyone, not just Oliver. I liked every character in Emmy & Oliver, even Keith. I can understand everyone’s actions and motives. Other than Keith’s actions at the end, I thought everything rang true (not that I was ever involved in the situation described in the book).

I know describing a book as a ‘beach read’ may be the kiss of death, but I don’t mean it to be. Had I received the book when it is issued in June 2015, I can see me sitting under a big shade tree on Cape Cod, listening to the sound of the bay and the seals, reading Emmy & Oliver. So maybe I’ll amend my statement to say it’s a good summer time, feel good, read. I do highly recommend Emmy & Oliver.

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