Monday, July 27, 2020

Sea Star Summer by Sally Partridge

Sea Star Summer by Sally Partridge is the summer vacation book I didn't realise I needed as a diversion from all the dross in my current days. Maybe it's because I grew up in a seaside town, but the ocean has special meaning for me, and Sally *gets* what this is like. Also, her love for the little South African resort town of Jeffrey's Bay, with its ephemeral summer population, shines through. Now I'd love to go visit just to see it for myself.

We meet sixteen-year-old Naomi who is awkward as all hell. I relate hard to her, because I also spent most of my my summer vacations hiding in books. So when Naomi's parents insist that they spend their summer vacation in Jeffrey's Bay, it's not exactly a dream come true for Naomi. But she has her books. So there is that.

What she doesn't expect is running into Elize, whose family is vacationing at the nearby campsite, and although Naomi and Elize are vastly different in terms of their backgrounds, the two hit it off immediately. Elize is everything Naomi isn't, and yet together the two create a special kind of magic.

But then boys. That's par for the course when you're a teenager, and the two who cross Naomi's path cause her no end of complications, but for different reasons. And of the two boys in question, we have blond surfer dude Daniel and Elize's own brother Marius, who's got a bit of a bad-boy vibe going. Honestly, Daniel is, putting it politely, a knob. Every interaction with him made me cringe. Marius was all right. I felt for him. But I'm not going to spoil the story for you.

Central to the story is Naomi's understanding of who she is, and the fact that it's okay that she may not like boys. Much of what she experiences is awkward as all hell, which I think many of us can relate to when we think back to our own first experiences in love. Naomi struggles with what is expected of her and how she thinks she should behave vs. learning to be brave to grow into who she truly is. Sea Star Summer is a sweet tale of a summer romance found when least expected, made poignant by the reminder that the time for it to play out is fleeting.

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