Available May 13th
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Hardcover 248 pages
Review e-ARC from publisher
Contemporary YA/ Magical Realism ???
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Goodreads- A twisty story about love, loss, and lies, this contemporary oceanside adventure is tinged with a touch of dark magic as it follows seventeen-year-old Wendy Darling on a search for her missing surfer brothers. Wendy’s journey leads her to a mysterious hidden cove inhabited by a tribe of young renegade surfers, most of them runaways like her brothers. Wendy is instantly drawn to the cove’s charismatic leader, Pete, but her search also points her toward Pete's nemesis, the drug-dealing Jas. Enigmatic, dangerous, and handsome, Jas pulls Wendy in even as she's falling hard for Pete. A radical reinvention of a classic, Second Star is an irresistible summer romance about two young men who have yet to grow up--and the troubled beauty trapped between them.
I like Alyssa Sheinmel's writing. There is just a little bit of magic in it that makes you question what you're reading. Is it real, imagined, somewhere in between. The beach setting, with white sands, "flour soft" and the waves, clear and glassy, hollow, perfect. Descriptions are so beautifully written, I could feel myself transported to the beach, a place I already feel has a special healing magic to it. With that and the reference to it being a reworking of Peter Pan I felt a special kind of surrealism reading the novel.
The beginning of the novel tells us of the tragic truth that Wendy's brothers, Michael and John, 16 yr old twins, are lost. They ran away, maybe for a few days, maybe for longer, to surf and never returned. That was September. It is now graduation day and Wendy has not seen them. There is an emptiness beside her, inside her, in her home. She just can't accept they are gone. Her best friend Fiona is worried about this fact, but her parents are still wrapped in their own grief and don't even notice.
But here was the problem, I spent so much time trying to compare the book to Peter Pan, I couldn't enjoy the book as much as I might have. The middle became so muddled to me, especially the love triangle. Yes, it's Peter Pan and you know the love triangle in that. I didn't like how that turned out. Or did it? I don't know if the narrator, Wendy is unreliable. I wouldn't exactly call it "an irresistible summer romance" as it says in the description. There is a heavy dark tone of sadness with the hunt for her brothers. And there is the drug dealer Jas who gets kids hooked on "fairy dust". That just doesn't fit into a summer romance for me.
I got lost in the end. What was real, what was a dream, what was a nightmare. What really happened? That ending......that's what the ending was like. The book was dreamy and magical, but when it comes back to reality, there are absolutely no clues to help readers know what to believe. In the end, I guess it's up to us to decide what to believe. For me, I like a solid definite ending. This one doesn't have one for me.
Maybe I just wanted a little more clarity. Maybe Wendy did too. I didn't understand. Neither did Wendy. So in the end, I was of the same mind set as Wendy. However, I didn't like the guy I think Wendy would choose, it made no sense to me. And I am not really sure what Wendy believed at the end.
Would I read another book with these same characters? Yes, I'd love some more closure. I'd love some more of the surf scene and the dream like quality of Wendy's time with Pete, Belle and the boys. And I'd like a definite ending.
I think Second Star just kind of misses the mark somehow. I enjoyed reading it. I kept wanting to and made time to read it. But I felt unsatisfied when I finished. Somewhere in the middle it veered off course and just never made it's way back to the story it started out to be. But that doesn't mean everyone will feel that way. Give it a chance if you're game. Alyssa Sheinmel knows how to write. This one was like two puzzles mixed together, the pieces don't fit because they come from two separate stories/puzzles.
Thanks to the publishers for a copy of the e-ARC for review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.
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