Saturday, October 24, 2020

Thirty Sunsets, by Christine Hurley Deriso

Everyone is shocked that Brian, Forrest's brother, has turned down his acceptance at Vanderbilt to attend community college.  She would have never thought that her brother would throw everything away for a girlfriend, particularly one as dopey as cheerleader Olivia.  Forrest doesn't get that sort of thing.  She's yet to date anyone (or even be kissed) as she's focused on getting her education and not planning on any distractions.

Then her mother invites Olivia to join the family for a month on the beach.  Forrest is stunned.  How on earth is she going to be able to tolerate having her brother's bimbo with them for a month?  But something more is going on here and as the reveals occur, the summer becomes one for the books.

The reveals, in fact, keep coming and coming so fast that you may have trouble keeping up with the story, and that is really the problem with this book.  Based on the tired foundation of a summer beach story, Deriso does a decent job developing her characters.  Forrest and Olivia develop a charming chemistry which makes their friendship the real highlight of this book.  However, the author really struggles with the storytelling.  Not satisfied to have one big shock, she quickly follows it with a second, a third, and a fourth.  By that point, the story becomes muddled and the resolutions for each of the four dramas becomes less and less satisfactory.  To me, this is a sign that Deriso started with a great idea but couldn't figure out what to do with it.  Fumbling for resolution, she just threw up a new one and, when that didn't work, she just hit it up a notch higher.  So, rather than tell a story, we simply end up with a lot of action at the end.  It's a quick read, but unrewarding.

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