Emma Saylor doesn’t remember a lot about her mother, who died when Emma was twelve. But she does remember the stories her mom told her about the big lake that went on forever, with cold, clear water and mossy trees at the edges.
Now it’s just Emma and her dad, and life is good, if a little predictable…until Emma is unexpectedly sent to spend the summer with her mother’s family that she hasn’t seen since she was a little girl.
When Emma arrives at North Lake, she realizes there are actually two very different communities there. Her mother grew up in working class North Lake, while her dad spent summers in the wealthier Lake North resort. The more time Emma spends there, the more it starts to feel like she is also divided into two people. To her father, she is Emma. But to her new family, she is Saylor, the name her mother always called her.
Then there’s Roo, the boy who was her very best friend when she was little. Roo holds the key to her family’s history, and slowly, he helps her put the pieces together about her past. It’s hard not to get caught up in the magic of North Lake—and Saylor finds herself falling under Roo’s spell as well.
For Saylor, it’s like a whole new world is opening up to her. But when it’s time to go back home, which side of her—Emma or Saylor—will win out?
Why I Read It
Pre-ordering this book was nonnegotiable for me. Sarah Dessen is my favorite author, I’ve reread her books countless times. So, I mean, that pretty much explains why I read this one.
My *spoiler-free* Thoughts
There are a few things I want to mention in this review that at first may SEEM like spoilers, but they have nothing to do with the direction the plot takes and where the story ultimately ends up so I’m going to share them here with you all. Because I’m really excited about how much this book reminds me of my favorite book by Sarah Dessen, The Truth About Forever.
Trinity reminds me so much of Kristy! Neither of them take shit from anyone, are kind of romantics, and not only do they both care about fashion but they both actually style the main characters in each of these books at one point. I think they’d be friends IRL.
Roo could be Wes’s younger brother; you know, if he didn’t have Bert and if their storylines actually matched up. In fact, they remind me so much of each other that I thought for SURE there would end up being some sort of link connecting their families somehow. Links between books are not unheard of in Sarah Dessen’s fictional world, so here’s hoping!
And, of course, they’re both afraid of clowns. COME ON.
Honestly, the entire vibe of the book reminded me so much of TTAF. Which makes me so happy, because I’ve read TTAF at least 10 times now. It’s my favorite. It’ll be nice to have another Sarah Dessen book that reminds me so much of that one, yet is somehow completely different. I feel like I have a favorite-book-back-up. Plus, of course, all of her other books, which I love dearly.
So enough of comparing this book to my favorite one, even though I’m having a lot of fun with that. Can we PLEASE talk about Ryan? Again, I’m not considering this a spoiler because it doesn’t impact the plot to be honest. But Ryan discovers her sexuality at drama camp, and starts crushing on a girl (Ryan, in case you aren’t aware, is a girl and one of Emma Saylor’s best friends). SARAH, YES, I’M GOING TO NEED AN ENTIRE BOOK WRITTEN ABOUT RYAN’S SUMMER AT DRAMA CAMP AND HOW ALL OF THIS HAPPENED, PLEASE. *crosses fingers*
I love the characters. I love the story. I love the concept. I love the setting and the history. Ugh.
So, quickly, let’s touch on why I knocked it down half a point. I was going to rate this 5/5, but then I remembered something I kept thinking about as I was reading and it’s definitely worth mentioning.
I’m not the absolute biggest fan of the way time was handled often in this book. *shrivels up and crawls under a rock*
In Sarah Dessen’s novels, small time jumps are not uncommon, and they’re usually not jarring or confusing, at least for me. They usually make sense, are necessary. That’s typical in writing: utilize time jumps when time passes where nothing essential to the story happens, nothing that would further the plot.
This is where my issue comes in. First, because Emma Saylor is in North Lake for only three weeks. That’s a very short amount of time, in my opinion, to use as many time jumps as there are in this book. It felt like every other chapter a few days had passed, and half of the chapter was used to catch us up on what happened during those few days. And this happened so often that I began to wonder how many days had passed, and felt like it far exceeded the three weeks. Technically only two weeks, two and a half tops, but I won’t get into specifics because it’ll be too hard to explain without going into detail that’s unnecessary.
Also, there were points later on that included specific character traits and details that were revealed to the main character during moments that we didn’t get to see. Like, it was revealed to Emma Saylor during one of the few days we jumped ahead of, and then that moment was left out of the reflection we were given after the time jump. This got a little frustrating and I wish some of those time jumps were just left out completely, because they didn’t feel important to me. Some of them were called for, of course, but some weren’t and messed up the timeline for me. It was something I noticed while reading and took me out of the story a few times.
Other than that, though, I didn’t have any issues with the book. That’s why I only knocked it down half a point in my rating.
So that’s my spoiler-free review! I try to be slightly more vague in these as to avoid spoilers, but books like this are great because I can talk about all of the notable things (at least, notable to me) without spoiling anything. If you’d like to get a little more detail, you can check out my spoiler review. But, warning: SPOILERS! My opinion stays the same, though. 🙂
And, obviously, I recommend this book highly. Especially if you’re a Sarah Dessen fan. I loved it and I think other people will too!