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.
5 Out Of 5 Stars
Anise has her whole summer before senior year planned out, spending all her time surfing and hanging out with her friends. But when her dad informs her that her aunt has had an accident and her three young cousins need care, Anise finds herself uprooted to Nebraska, as different from California as possible. Anise loves her family and wants to help, but she feel so alone and stranded, watching as her life spirals away from her. But when she takes her cousins to their favorite skate park, she meets a boy named Lincoln who challenges her in ways that make her uncomfortable yet intrigued.
I originally found this book on Netgalley, where the cover and title first caught my eye (and yes, I do judge books by their covers) and then the synopsis really threw me over the edge with my want to read it, the title intriguing and I had heard really good things about the story, so I pretty much knew I had to read this book. I can happily report that this story lived up to my lofty expectations! Gawd, I just want to hug this book to my chest because the feels, oh the feels this story brought to me. This was such a charming growing up book, where Anise learns who she is without all the crutches and safety nets she has always been surrounded by. Her safe comfortable life is not really all that she wants, but it takes some big painful steps for her to learn that, as well as learn who she really is and who she aspires to be. And I would not consider this a romance, even though there was a great slow-building romance here, but instead the relationships between family, such as Anise and her cousins and friendship are valued even more highly than the actual romance in the book is, and I feel like this is such a new perspective for a teen book that I could not help but love this story for that aspect alone.
This was a very character driven story, with little to no real "action" except Anise's development as a person. But it was such a good journey! I loved Anise, and no she was not perfect, she had her flaws just like real people do, but she was willing to acknowledge what her's were and try and do something about them. She was given a scenario that went against everything she wanted, but she stepped up and made the best of it, and I rooted her on through every page. She was engaging, honest, stubborn, giving, loyal and so real. She was the plot of the book and I enjoyed watching her personal growth over the course of the summer.
There were a lot of side characters that helped define Anise, such as her 9 year old cousins the twins, Parker and Nash, and her 12 year old cousin Emery. She was incredibly empathetic when it came to how she treated them, surprising for an only child and a teenager in general. Her relationship with her dad was my favorite part of the story, a constant reliable bond that Anise never seemed to take for granted. And lets not forget quirky, fun, helpful and understanding Lincoln. He was exactly what Anise needed, whether she knew it or not. As a side note, I loved that Lincoln used the word finagle, which is probably one of my most favorite words, and he threw it out ever so casually and defended the use of it to Anise, which made me want to laugh and high five him. I think out of all the books I have read recently, this title had the most quotable moments that stuck in my head and felt so insightful and emotional that I had to write them down.
'The thing is, even though technically I just failed, their encouragement is empowering.'
'"But bad things are infinite, right? he asks'
"That's true, but you know what else is true?"
"Good things are infinite too."
This was such a sweet feel good story, showing the importance of friends and family, that some bonds will never break, that change can be important and beneficial and you are whoever you want to be. I felt happy and content with the entire book when it was over, and no, there were no happily ever afters, and I would not change a thing. The story was real life where there are no certainties, you just try your hardest and hope for the best.