Monday, August 1, 2016

Review: "The Summer After You and Me" by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski

Sunbathing, surfing, eating funnel cake on the boardwalk—Lucy loves living on the Jersey Shore. For her, it's not just the perfect summer escape, it is home. And as a local girl, she knows not to get attached to the tourists. They breeze in over Memorial Day weekend, crowding the shore and stealing moonlit kisses, only to pack up their beach umbrellas and empty promises on Labor Day. Lucy wants more from love than a fleeting romance, even if that means keeping her distance from her summertime neighbor and crush, Connor. Then Superstorm Sandy tears apart her barrier island, briefly bringing together a local girl like herself and a vacationer like Connor. Except nothing is the same in the wake of the storm. And day after day, week after week, Lucy is left to pick up the pieces of her broken heart and broken home. Now with Memorial Day approaching and Connor returning, will it be a summer of fresh starts or second chances?
Thank you to Sourcebooks Fire via Netgalley for the free review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
This was my first book by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski, and I really enjoyed it. The pace was perfect for a summer beach read, the writing was great, and the characters resonated with me. But, right off the bat, I think there should be a disclaimer in the synopsis stating that there is a bit of a love triangle. You know, like a "heads up" type warning label or something, because I know many readers seem to hate that whole trope. For me, the love triangle worked okay here - it was quite evident, at least to me, who Lucy would end up with, and it seemed necessary that Lucy work through her feelings for both boys in order to figure out what she really wanted for her future. So yeah, it worked, but it would have been nice to know ahead of time what I was getting into.

I quite liked Lucy. The ups and downs she went through with her friends, her brother, her parents, and even Connor, seemed realistic to me. I liked how she was working towards her career goals by getting volunteer experience in her field. Lucy also went through many plausible disappointments during this book, like having to move out of her house while it was being renovated after the storm, and figuring out a back up plan after her summer job plans fell through. I was especially interested in the dynamic between Lucy and her twin brother - I liked how she found out from her parents, and Connor, among others, how what she perceived was completely different from how other people saw the situation. Lucy always felt that she was trying to keep pace with her brother, but in reality, things were quite different.

There was one character that felt a bit extraneous, an older, male university student.  I'm not really sure why he was added in the mix, except to offer help to Lucy when she needed it. I never quite bought his motivations, and I kept waiting for him to start hitting on Lucy or take advantage of her in some way. Maybe that's the skeptic in me, but he didn't seem to serve much of a purpose here. My opinion would be to get rid of this guy altogether - he added nothing to the plot that couldn't be developed in some other way.

If I'm going to be completely critical here, I would have liked to learn more about Connor, as well. Most of what we learn about Connor is through flashbacks, and from Lucy's observations of him from afar.  There were some sweet moments between the two of them, and I did like Connor, I just wish that he hadn't been held at arm's length so much. I feel like the author only scratched the surface of him, if you know what I mean!

But, other than those minor criticisms, this book was a fun read and a great one to start my summer with!

My rating: 4 stars

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