Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Thirty Sunsets, by Christine Hurley Deriso

On the eve of her family's annual month-long beach vacation, Forrest discovers that her mother has invited Olivia (her older brother's psycho bulimic girlfriend) to join them.  Worse still, she's going to have to share a room with her!  All that Forrest wants is to have a normal summer -- meet a cute guy on the beach and have a first kiss, sort out why her brother has gotten so weird, and maybe lose Olivia in a riptide along the way.  What Forrest gets, however, is completely unexpected:  a summer of revelations (about family, her brother, and herself).

I liked Deriso's great sense of family dynamics and her ear for language in complex scenes.  I was less thrilled by her taste for melodrama and piling on crisis upon crisis.  This story features a rape, an attempted sexual assault, an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, an abusive mother, alcoholism, and even a death.  Deriso doesn't have much patience for storytelling, so rather than focus on her strengths in character building she resorts to action and violence.  This ultimately makes the book exhausting and thin, and wastes some lovely and interesting characters.

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