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 Thoughts *SPOILERS AHEAD, BEWARE*
This book was kind of everything I wanted it to be, and actually even more than that. I’m going to post a quick screenshot of a small portion of my spoiler-free review, which explains how this book reminds me of The Truth About Forever. I don’t want to make half of this review exactly the same as my other one, and I have more spoiler-y stuff to talk about here anyway, so I’ll provide a screenshot for you to check out at your leisure.
So back to the spoilers.
Full disclosure, I’ve never had a parent who has been an addict. I’ve had some pretty sketchy family members (sketchy as in questionable behavior). Behavior by some family members was hidden from me for a long time, and others I was aware of for a while. But again, I can’t really speak much to Emma Saylor’s situation.
I think what was confusing to me was the information. Before reading ahead, please note that I didn’t take this into consideration when rating the book because, again, I feel like unless you have personal experience it’s really hard to have an opinion on this. I’m just speaking on what I read and how it made me feel.
So. For me, the information was confusing. It’s very obvious to me that Emma Saylor, at the beginning of the book, is aware that her mother was an addict. That has been very clear for me. Which, to me, means her father probably told her that. Because we get a memory of her mother in the beginning that doesn’t involve some traumatic drinking/addict moment; her mother is telling her a bedtime story based on her childhood at North Lake. And Emma Saylor was really young when her mom died, and while perhaps she had an inkling of what was going on, she provides a LOT of detail to readers that I think probably came from her father. In my mind, that’s the only explanation.
When Emma Saylor goes to North Lake and begins learning about her mom’s history and her family, her father is reluctant to talk about any of it. He was obviously reluctant to talk about it in the past, because Emma Saylor didn’t know about any of these people or this place, but even in the present when she’s experiencing it he doesn’t want to discuss any of it.
My confusion comes in here. Like, why is her dad open to telling her about her mother’s problems, but not willing to talk about her life at the lake, where she was obviously happiest? Some sad stuff happened there, sure. But a lot of what Emma Saylor wants to talk about is the happy memories and just her history in general, and her father shuts down. He’s very selective in what he’s willing to discuss, and in my mind it seems like he’s only willing to discuss the stuff that’s not so great. I could understand if he didn’t want to talk about her addiction or traumatic events, so Emma Saylor could have a nice memory of her mother, but she already knows about all of that.
Perhaps it just hurts him to talk about all of it, but he makes it seem like it’s for Emma Saylor’s benefit and protection. It’s very confusing for me. But, as I’ve already said a million times, this is just me expressing genuine confusion. It’s most likely just something I don’t understand, and frankly I’m okay with that.
I’ve already expressed my issues with the timeline in my other review, and I feel like I rambled on about it forever, so I’ll sum it up. While Sarah Dessen jumps through timelines in her other books, in this one there are times where I feel like it takes away from the story. I never have a problem with it in her other books, and even feel it’s necessary sometimes. As a writer it’s important to know when you should skip over something because it’s not moving the plot forward. But there was a little bit too much of that in this book and it got distracting at times. If you’d like to hear me ramble on about this longer, you can check out my spoiler-free review. It’s near the bottom!
All in all, I absolutely recommend this book. I thought it was fantastic and read it quicker than I thought I would, considering how busy I’ve been this summer. It’ll definitely be a re-read for me in the future, but to be honest, all of her books are re-reads for me. 🙂