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?
3.5 crowns – I’m still in debate whether I’m rounding up or keeping it at the 3 crowns. Maybe if I stare really hard at the rating on Goodreads, it will look like 3.5.
I feel like the first 75% of the book was such a solid four crowns, but I found the last 25% to drag which honestly knocked down that half a crown for me. Other than that, the pacing was super super good. I just found myself not being enthralled with that road trip and I started skimming through some parts.
However, the rest of the book was pretty great. Anise was such a wonderful MC. I GOT her. I felt for her. In her situation, I feel like a lot of YA MCs just pout and throw a tantrum, but Anise always realized that the situation she was in was what was best for her family. She was so dedicated to her family that it was endearing and heartfelt. It wasn’t all sunshines and rainbows, but I honestly felt like she was me and I was her – except without all the physical activity excitement that Anise loves. She had PASSIONS, she had a BACKSTORY, she had GREATNESS. I absolutely loved her voice.
Can we just discuss how much I LOVED the family in this novel? It felt so reallllllllllllll. We always talk about the lack of family in YA, and this book showcased it at its finest. I loved Anise’s little cousins and her aunt and her dad and just the dynamics that all worked together. I was loving everything about it.
As for the rest of the characters? I thought the supporting cast that wasn’t family was okay. Silverman does give a pretty diverse supporting cast which was fantastic. However, to be honest, I never really got a real hold on Lincoln. I felt like a lot of his character development was surface level, and I never got to dive deep into the water with him (OMG, I’m making surf metaphors now – this is my life now that I proclaimed I am Anise). I just wanted more from him than what I got. I still liked him, though, and his romance with Anise was quite cute.
The plot was…I’m not entirely sure there was a real plot, plot. In fact, I tried to explain what was going on in the book to my co-blogger, Sha, and I literally couldn’t even describe. However, I didn’t mind it for the most part. This is one of those good coming of age stories that takes you more on an emotional journey with deep characterization and fun contemporary moments. It didn’t need a huge overreaching plot. The good writing let it have its course while still being captivating. However, sometimes the lack of a big, action plot led it to dwindle and get a bit boring at parts.
Speaking of writing, Silverman is fantastic! This being her debut novel says so much. She has an easy breezy flow that had me flipping pages so fast. I definitely will be picking up future books from her! She also managed to capture both California and Nebraska wonderfullyyyyyyyyyy, and I honestly felt I was there in both moments.
Overall, this was a fun, easy read. I absolutely loved the writing, the main character, and the settings were so well done. I loved how much the family was incorporated in this one. However, I did have a few issues with the lack of a deeper supporting cast and some boredom throughout the book but especially in the last 25%. It was still a great contemporary read, and I really enjoyed it for the most part. I definitely recommend for anyone wanting some great summer vibes. 3.5 crowns and a Jasmine rating!
What do you think? Are you ready for the contemporaries again now that summer is coming for most of it? Let’s discuss in the comments below!