As I finish this book, I’m swamped with bittersweet feelings. The death of a brother is hard, but when it’s your beloved big brother, who was your hero and your mentor, it’s a hard loss to bear. An eighteen year old girl moves into her grandfathers house for the summer before starting college. Supposedly, it was to act as her grandpa’s designated driver, as her mother felt he was too old to drive. And yet, the real reason is that she was having problems coming to terms with her brother’s death, six months ago. She needed to get away from places that reminded her of Liam, as she processed her loss. The first weekend of her summer vacation, she and her grandpa were invited to see a band where the grandson of his friend and tennis partner plays. And again, she has reminders of Liam, because Liam had a band and she was invited to participate in the band and she would go to gigs with Liam on weekends. And yet, she felt him near when she played, so she accepted auditioning to be a part of this new band, the Beastlings.
So Scarlett joins the band, starts work as a lifeguard at the community pool, and starts to live her summer before starting college. She felt to me like a real young adult, very mature one moment, her head in the clouds the next moment. As she deals with a failed flirtation with a band member, the illness of another band member’s mother, with her memories of Liam, a confusing change in the behavior of her best friend Varum, and conversations with her grandpa, this eighteen-year old matures and learns resiliency at facing life’s struggles. She also finds love, except it felt like love found her and she needed a knock on the head to recognize it. She struggles with other people’s perception of her, and all the time, in all her actions and her thoughts, Liam was present. At first, he was the source of pain, then later a source of comfort as she starts to see him through the eyes of others.
I requested this book from NetGalley because the plot seemed about loss. This was such a heartfelt book, that I felt Scarlett’s loss and mourned for Liam. I also felt for Zach and his mom, and admired Zach for the way he faces life and illness, head front and with good humor. The pace of the book was slow, reflective. It was perfect for the plot, because Scarlett needed to meander, search, discover in order to overcome her grief. It was a road of discovery, of coming of age, and discovering new loves. A beautiful read.