From Robin Constantine, author of The Promise of Amazing andThe Secrets of Attraction, comes a funny and heartfelt summer romance set in New Jersey. Perfect for fans of Sarah Mlynowski, Jenny Han, and Morgan Matson.
Cassidy Emmerich is reeling from a sudden, humiliating breakup. The last thing she wants to do is stick around and be reminded of her ex everywhere she goes. On impulse, she decides to spend the summer with her father and his family at their Jersey Shore bed-and-breakfast. A different scene and a new job working as a camp counselor seem like the perfect recipe for forgetting Gavin as quickly as possible—not to mention for avoiding him until he leaves for college.
Bryan Lakewood is sick of nevers. You’ll never walk. You’ll never surf. You’ll never slow dance with a girl and have her put her head on your shoulder. Last year he made one false move—now he’s paralyzed and needs to use a wheelchair. But this summer, he’s back at his camp job and is determined to reclaim his independence—and his confidence.
Cass is expecting two months of healing her broken heart.
Bryan is expecting a summer of tough adjustments.
Neither is expecting to fall in love.
This book was very light, very fluffy, very sweet and overall very forgettable. It wasn’t just that the cast was no different than any other YA contemporary out there, or the conflicts in the book never really got resolved, or that the cast of characters were as white as snow, but this book itself epitomizes my apathy with this genre in general. The plot cruises by at a leisurely pace as Cassidy goes to Crest Haven for the summer to run away from the boy who cheated on her. Or so she implies.
“There was no reason not to be excited that Crest Haven, a place where people came from all over to enjoy the beach, the food, and the quaint atmosphere, would be my home for the summer.”
What’s at Crest Haven? Well for one thing, she’s staying at her dad’s Bed-and-Breakfast, which he runs with Cass’s step-mom. They also have a son, Hunter, who is all sorts of adorable-ness and goes to summer camp. It’s at that summer camp where Cass becomes a co-counselor and meets a group of teenagers that make her summer well worth it. One guy in particular, Bryan, seems to have taken a special interest with her and her with him. A summer romance ensues!
My problem with these characters is that they came with baggage, and they left with baggage. Meaning in the beginning of the book, Cass is so heart-broken over her ex and the things he did. Apparently he cheated on her with another girl and someone took a picture and tagged her in it. She’s running away from her problems (i.e. him) by going to Crest Haven for the summer. Bryan, on the other hand, seems to have a broken relationship with his own ex and has another girl who left for the summer that he rejected. And to top it off, he has to deal with the limits that come with having paralyzed legs. But towards the end of the book, nothing really happens to the majority of these conflicts and I just felt like a lot of loose strings were left hanging. I understand why authors would do this (seeing as this book takes place within the timespan of a summer or less), but why introduce these problems in the first place then? It didn’t help neither the characters nor the plot, and just served as additional angst in the story. I thought it was unnecessary and ultimately added to the “fluff” in the story.
“I came to Ocean Whispers to forget about a boy, not fall for one.”
Despite all these, I do like the conflicts that were addressed. Bryan was a pretty laid-back and humble character, and I like how he embraced his paralyzed legs rather than stay focused on the negative aspects in his life. Cassidy starts getting into her role in Crest Haven, and manages to become a part of the group of teenagers in the community. She makes new friends and has fun during the summer. That was basically the gist of the story, honestly, There was no trademark self-discovery going on, or acceptance with her family. It was just about a girl falling in love with a guy over the summer while things happened around them.
“And in that moment, as she held out her hand to let the firefly loose, I realized that I didn’t care whether she was in Crest Haven for four minutes, four hours, four days, or four weeks. I wanted to be in Cassidy’s life, to know her, and whatever time we had, it would have to be enough.”
I did believe that Bryan’s use of a wheelchair would be implemented more in the plot, but it was more of a side-thing than anything. At first I would have appreciated it if his character changed more after the wheelchair experience (rather than just physical limitations), but now I like how while he was disabled, it didn’t really change much about him. These accidents happen, and they’re not that uncommon. We see Bryan struggle with the wheelchair, certainly, but it isn’t part of the central plot – just another part of his unique character. He also has a fondness for surfing that was touched upon over the story, but never really made an impact on me.
Cassidy was so nice and supportive, and she seems like a friend that I would like. She’s also hard-working and just an overall responsible character. My only complaint about her character was her vacillating attitude towards her ex-boyfriend. But again, it’s just a side component of teenage angst. It provided a central conflict for the story, even if it made her dim down a bit as a character.
One thing that I would point out as a teenage reader was the author’s use of the phrase “hook up.” I don’t know about you guys, but to me, the connotation that comes out of that phrase is having sex. But in this book, it seems like the author uses it interchangeably with “hanging out”? Bryan will mention how he “hooked up” with a girl a couple of times after going to prom with her but from all accounts, it seems as if they just hung out. Cassidy also asks Bryan to “hook up” some time but in such an easygoing way that it couldn’t have been having sex. (Lol I read too much into these things.) It made me as a reader really confused though, and also wary. English is a complicated enough language to use in the first place, but get into the colloquial speech and we step into a hazy blur. Maybe the phrase I was so focused on just means hanging out to the author, editors, and other readers of the book before release as an ARC, but as a teenage reader, it just made me baffled. I also asked many of my other friends across several schools and states, and we’ve all come to the conclusion that 9 times out of 10, “hook up” equates to having sex, and the other 1 time is when a parent attempts to use it. But enough about my linguistics rant.
Note: After typing this I also found out that it could also pertain to “making out.” (Which still wouldn’t make sense for some of the phrases used.)
Overall, this light beach read (featured in a beach town) is enjoyable while reading but hardly unforgettable. The wheelchair aspect of Bryan was what interested me, but it wasn’t what kept me reading. The sweet and slow-to-form romance was enough to keep me engaged. Cute dialogue, fun characters, and an amalgam of random conflicts fill this book up, and the 200-something pages passes by like a breeze. Contemporary readers will most likely enjoy this one (as it fits in so well with the other books in this genre), but it was a bit too mundane for me to really enjoy fully.