There are some unmarked spoilers, but it’s not really the kind of book where anything is a “twist”, so… continue at your own discretion?
I honestly tried to salvage my thoughts into something USEFUL, but this review would be better described as a rant. If you’re the type of GR user who loves salty tangents, please keep reading.
It’s the summer before Anise’s senior year, and she’s got to make this summer count: she’s going to spend every waking moment catching waves, spending time with her very best friends, and planning the annual Surf Break event that draws tourists from all around to Santa Cruz to watch great surf and even better bands. It’s going to be a summer to remember… until Anise’s aunt Jackie is hospitalized due to an accident, and her father is dragging her out to Nebraska to take care of her young cousins. For the entire summer. How can Anise survive a summer without her unofficial family, the salt water, and the childhood BFF who’s suddenly catching her eye?
This book was an incredibly quick and easy read, but that isn’t necessarily a compliment in this review. Maybe I’ve become jaded by the amounts of fantasy I’ve been reading lately, but this just feels so overly casual. The banter feels incredibly forced at times, like there’s just this really concerted effort to convince the reader that this is just a couple of teenagers chatting with each other, but it didn’t come across well at all for me. There’s so much filler material in the dialogue!
There are honestly so many things I could say about how much I hated Anise’s character, but I’ll just stick to a few main points. Still… buckle up, y’all.
• She’s incredibly self-centered and rude. She spends the majority of the book moping about one thing or another, whether it’s having to take care of her cousins, having to help her aunt, staying in the house her mother grew up in, being away from the beach, skateboarding… I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt for the first 30% or so of the book, and kept chalking it up to, “she’s just being written as a melodramatic teen!” but this was honestly too much.
• She refuses to believe that anything on the planet could hold a candle to her beloved surfing. She literally goes on multiple inner and outer tangents about how pathetic every sport is compared to surfing, and how surfing is soooo much harder than everything anyone else does… until she tries skateboarding, which just leads her to complain about how hard skateboarding is, and how lame it is… until she magically is a pro skateboarder after SEVEN DAYS of practice, and then overnight, it becomes the most amazing thing ever and she’s a born-again evangelist of the religion of the Almighty Skate Park.
• She literally kisses her LIFELONG BEST FRIEND right before she leaves, knowing she’s about to leave, and then within five minutes of meeting Lincoln, it’s like, “who the hell is Eric?” and she stops responding to any of his messages or even making any attempt at all to salvage their friendship?
• Actually, on that note, she bails on ALL of her friends and manages to completely alienate every last one of them. Of course, by the end, everyone has forgiven her and pretends nothing happened (including Eric, who, you know, spent the entire summer waiting for her to come back so they could resume their budding relationship but lol NOPE she’s ~in love~ with Lincoln!).
• Despite her insistence that Lincoln is basically The Greatest Dude Ever, she treats him like complete garbage. He tries to cheer her cousins up? She yells at him. He offers to spend his money to drive her to Santa Cruz in time for Surf Break? She spends the entire trip sulking and moping and treating him like garbage. He goes to Surf Break and tries to hang out with her friends? She gets wasted and ditches him for the entire evening. LINCOLN, RUN. JUST RUN.
Sorry… I had a lot of feelings about her.
WHAT I LIKED ➳➳
Lincoln and Tess are enjoyable characters. They’re both really sweet and way more patient than Anise has ever deserved for a moment in her life, thank you very much. Anise’s dad is also a patron saint and he has these fantastic heart-to-hearts with her that actually portrayed a healthy, loving father/daughter relationship, which I don’t see nearly often enough in YA contemporaries.
OTHER STUFF I DISLIKED ➳➳
The ending. I mean, there’s this huge build-up over whether or not Anise and Lincoln will be able to survive the distance, with her in Santa Cruz and him in Nebraska. Despite Lincoln’s very obvious and intentional efforts to get close to Anise and to offer himself to her as legitimate relationship material, she just keeps telling herself that there’s no way they can make it as a couple because he wants to explore the world and she doesn’t. I mean, I know they’re just a casual summer fling couple, but if you’re going to keep telling the reader that you’re head over heels for the kid, the least you could do is act it.
I digress. The ending is so open and just… nothing gets resolved, at all. We have no clue what will happen between Anise and Lincoln, plus Anise’s first conversation with Eric after she gets home basically consists of her ogling him, which felt a bit tasteless given the fact that she showed serious interest in him and then ditched him and led him on while she chased another guy?
Also, there’s this whole big story arc regarding Anise’s mother, who basically only shows up once every few years, for a few days at a time, before disappearing again. No phone calls, no letters, just the occasional postcard with no return address or phone number or anything. It’s bizarre enough that we’re told Anise’s father just accepts all of this as normal familial behavior, but to make matters worse, we spend the entire book hearing about Anise’s mom and how she’s probably going to show up at Aunt Jackie’s house as some sort of surprise visitor, and then… nothing happens. NADA.
FINAL VERDICT ➳➳
I would not recommend this book to you unless you just really love surfing and/or skateboarding, and don’t mind really obnoxious narrators. The only reason I gave this 2 stars instead of 1 is because Lincoln is amazing POC rep and disability rep and I loved his lil’ cinnamon roll self.
Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for sending me this ARC! All opinions expressed in this review are my own.