Skip to main content

The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen

Emma Saylor is one hundred percent okay with her clean, orderly, maybe a little predictable life with her dad and Nana in Lakeview.  Change makes her nervous anyway (maybe not quite as nervous as driving, which, new license or no, she is absolutely never doing, no matter how much her dad pushes her into it), and she likes everything to be organized, tidy, and exactly where it’s supposed to be.  Maybe it’s because she lost her mom to addiction when she was a kid, and her dad is all about careful and cautious (and clean teeth, but then, he’s a dentist), but Emma likes it when she knows she can be sure where everything – and everyone – is going to be.

So when her plans to stay with her best friend while her dad is on his honeymoon trip fall through at the last minute, Emma is more than a little frazzled.  But after the roller coaster ride that was life with her mom, she wants her dad to be happy, and she really like Tracy, her new stepmom, which means going to stay with her mom’s mom, Mimi, and her cousins, all of whom she last saw when she was four years old, at the lake is going to have to be okay.  Even if they’re virtually strangers.  Emma’s sure she’ll be fine  – after all, her mom told her tons of stories about the lake right up until she died.

When Emma gets to the lake, she finds a whole new world – one where she’s Saylor, not Emma.  One where everyone knows her, but she doesn’t know them.  One where everyone remembers her mom, and isn’t afraid to talk about her.  One that’s messy, and chaotic, and a little wild, and overflowing with family and new friends and love.  Full of cousins, childhood best friends that might maybe turn into more, hotel housekeeping trials and tribulations, boats and docks, crash courses behind the wheel, impromptu proms, invisible lines between the two sides of the lake and the people that occupy them, and nothing, nothing, nothing that’s predictable.

Is it really summer without a Sarah Dessen novel?  Nope!  The queen of summer is back with a fabulous new novel, one that’ll have you grabbing your towel, flip flops, a bottle of sunscreen, a big thermos of sun tea and hitting the dock to sink into this delicious novel of family, first love, and figuring out where you come from – and where you’re going.  Tuck The Rest of the Story into your beach bag this summer – and then indulge in a good re-read of some of Sarah Dessen’s other delicious novels!

Our Castle by the Sea by Lucy Strange

Petra and her big sister Mags have grown up in their lighthouse by the sea with their Pa and their Mutti.  On the chalky cliffs near Dover, their lighthouse is also home to the Daughters of Stone, four standing stones who, legends say, were turned to stone singing their fathers safely home from the sea.  Petra loves their lighthouse life, and all the quiet and wild things about the wide expanse of sea and sky – all except the Wyrm.  Although the lighthouse is there to warn sailors against the Wyrm, the sandbar in Dragon Bay below Petra’s beloved cliffs has swallowed hundreds of ships and kept them prisoner in the shifting sands of its maw, their masts only visible at the lowest tides.

But the year is 1939, and more dangerous things than sandbars lurk beneath the waves of the English Channel.  With the German army advancing toward the coast of France, a coast Petra can see on the clearest days from the lantern room in her lighthouse, fear is rising in the people of the village.  Barbed wire on the beach and bunkers on the clifftops make it clear that the war is coming to Kent, and soon.  When mysterious things begin happening in the village – cut wires and fires – it is clear that there is a traitor in their midst.  Neither Petra nor Mags believe it could possibly be their German-born mother, no matter what the villagers think, but when Mutti is summoned to a tribunal for enemy aliens, Petra feels her world start to slide out of control.  What can one girl do when it seems the whole world is at war not only with itself, but with her family?

Oh, this book!  Wow, wow, wow.  I have been waiting for the heir to the historical fiction throne that Kimberley Brubaker Bradley’s Newbery Award-winning The War That Saved My Life has been occupying in my heart for several years, and Our Castle by the Sea is a most worthy successor.  With old legends permeating the story (and maybe, just maybe, coming to life), Petra’s coming of age is rich with family, history, mystery, danger, high stakes, and one of the loveliest settings I’ve encountered in awhile.  There is nothing I would love more than to lean back against one of the sun-warmed Daughters of Stone and watch the clouds and the sea and the Wyrm twisting beneath the waves with its captive prey of shipwrecks – minus the Nazi submarines, of course.  Or explore the chalky Tunnel beneath the cliffs with a good jam sandwich in hand.  If you love historical fiction, or just a family story that will make you feel All the Things, be sure to pick up Lucy Strange’s sophomore novel at the library this summer!

Last Things by Jacqueline West

Anders Thorson lives for the music.  It’s everything to him – his blood, his breath, his bones, his life.  He, together with his band, Last Things, is spectacularly, eerily talented.  Only a few weeks away from graduation in their small northern Minnesota town, they’re right on the edge of fame and everything that comes with it.  Last Things can be found onstage at the Crow’s Nest, way out in the woods outside of town, every Friday and Saturday night, and so can everyone else in Greenwood, screaming for more.  Everyone, including Thea Malcolm, almost-invisible town odd girl, niece of a rumored witch, and Anders’s most loyal follower.

Anders has always been talented.  He and his buddies Jezz on bass and Patrick on drums have been performing at the Crow’s Nest for a few years – moving from Talent Night appearances to Tuesdays, then Thursdays, then weekends – and the band was definitely starting to get good before that weird night in the woods.  Before Anders got Yvonne, his beloved electric guitar, and before new songs started coming out of him – no, flowing through him – like floodwaters.  He’s always practiced, and practiced, and practiced.  But he’s not sure if he’s earned it yet, all the fame, and the screaming, and the fans, and the attention of gorgeous Frankie Lynde.  Really paid for what was given to him.  And until he knows the music is really his, Anders isn’t ready to take the next step forward, into the future that waits for him and the guys after graduation.

Thea Malcolm is always waiting.  Watching.  Following.  Waiting and watching and following Anders, and the woods, and all the dark things that wait there, crouching in the shadows, looking for the cracks to slither through.  She knows they’re coming, but she isn’t sure yet how, and when, or where.  Or what they’ll take along the way.  So until she does, Thea will keep watch, following Anders into the music and into the woods – and into the darkness.  She wants only one thing – to keep Anders safe.  But what does that really mean?  And what does Anders want for himself?

A dark, deliciously creepy driving bass line of a book, rock star author Jacqueline West’s newest novel completely freaked me out in all the best ways.  A superb mix of metal and music culture, small town and high school politics, and more than a splash of creeping horror, this had me reading frantically through the night to get to the end with all the lights on – inside and out.  I’ll never drive down a dark, wooded road the same way again – and I’ll definitely be on the lookout for any flashes of blonde girls on bikes in the woods in my rear view mirror.  If you love Stranger Things, Brenna Yovanoff’s novels, or local music with some serious edge, don’t miss Last Things!  And pick up some salt and river rocks on your way home.