Author: Hannah Moskowitz
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: April 19, 2011
Links: Amazon | Goodreads
Source: Galley Grab
Noah’s happier than I’ve seen him in months. So I’d be an awful brother to get in the way of that. It’s not like I have some relationship with Melinda. It was just a kiss. Am I going to ruin Noah’s happiness because of a kiss?
Across four sun-kissed, drama-drenched summers at his family’s beach house, Chase is falling in love, falling in lust, and trying to keep his life from falling apart. But some girls are addictive.
I enjoy the minimalistic style of prose that Hannah Moskowitz uses to tell this story. The writing is good, and it sucked me into this family's summers. But the sparse narrative also kept me feeling like I was being held at an arm's length from the characters. Things go unmentioned until they finally are, which is one of the problems with the family that is reflected in the narrative. I like that the style mirrors the family's inability to communicate their issues, but it might also dampen the sympathy that the reader feels for the characters. At times, I also find the characters to be a bit unbelievable. Some of their actions, reactions, and obsessions just don't always feel natural to me. It wasn't so much that I felt put off by their behavior (though at times I did), but that, if the prose is going to make me feel detached from the character then I'd like that character to be more relateable and sympathetic, otherwise I have a more difficult time becoming invested.
The setting isn't the typical summery book beach. It doesn't leave out the grit. The sand on this beach gets into their clothes and sticks to them. It gets carried into the house and pools in the furniture. It sticks to the scalp. This beach is sweaty and sticky and salty and messy and REAL.
This is not a fast-paced book. It studies the family through Chase's eyes, it shows us pieces of them and it leaves things out by giving us a view only of the surface, without a look at the depths until the buried things are brought up into view. The plot happens over four summers in the family's beach house. The parts of the year that are not spent at the beach are skipped over entirely, which makes sense because the main character mentions several times that he feels like anything important that ever happens to him is always connected to the summer. It's rare that those other parts of the year are mentioned, until the fourth summer when there is some looking backward to be done.
Aside from the few issues that I have with the characters, I think it's a brilliantly told novel. I also think that it's one of those books that I can appreciate more the more that I think about it or reread it. It's a sad yet beautiful story.