A copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for my review
Genre: Contemporary/Women's Fiction
Page Count: 400 Pages
List Price: $15.00 Paperback
$ 7.99 Digital Edition
Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Publisher: NAL Trade
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
One of the things I like about reviewing books is finding new authors that are up to the "repeat performance" test. Nothing is more disappointing than reading a book that you thought was great, and then the next book is a let down. On the flip side, nothing is more enjoyable than having that second book live up to, and sometimes even surpass the first one. Such is the case with Beach Plum Island the new book by author Holly Robinson. For those of you who read my recent review of her first book, The Wishing Hill, you will know how excited I was to find an author in the women's fiction category that writes with compelling story lines and wonderful, complex female characters.
Like Holly Robinson's first book, Beach Plum Island is mostly a story about family, in this case siblings. Ava Barret is the oldest of the sisters, a potter by trade, and the divorced mother of two teenage boys. All her life she has been the one to "take care of things". When her father passes away from cancer, he tells he to "tell her brother the truth." The only problem is, as far as Ava knows, she only has two sisters, Elaine, the sister she grew up with, and Gigi, her half-sister from her father's second marriage.
Beach Plum Island is one is part mystery and one part family drama, with romance thrown in for good measure. I like the way the clues for the mystery part of the story are revealed slowly, as the story progresses, allowing the mystery to be engaging without taking over the entire plot. Unfortunately, although I enjoyed the mystery surrounding the brother, and the ensuing search for him, this part of the story had it's flaws for me. In the beginning, it seemed like it was going to be just as complex as the rest of the story, but the conclusion of this story line seemed a bit to easy and didn't quite ring true. To say anymore would be to include spoilers, but I would have liked this part of the story to be a bit more real.
It is the family drama part that Iiked the most, and where I think Holly's writing really shines. The relationships between the characters are both complex and flawed, as are the characters themselves. I love that all of the characters, from the major protagonists all the way down to the character with the smallest part in the story, have demons in their lives that they are dealing with. Not a single one of them is totally positive or negative. At times I loved them and applauded their actions, at other times I wanted to yell at them and tell them to grow up, or think things through before acting. Exactly the way I am with my real life siblings, which makes the story all the more enjoyable to read.
As I read the book, I found myself turning pages, not wanting to stop reading until I found out how Ava was going to pull the family together, or how Gigi was going to fit into the family without her father around as a buffer, or even whether Elaine was going to decide that a one night stand didn't equal a relationship. This feeling lasted all of the way to the end of the book and beyond. Although the end of the book was perfectly satisfying, I still found myself wondering what was next for the members of the family. This type of feeling is what I have come to expect from Holly's writing and I am looking forward to her next project. It is also what makes me recommend this book to all my reading friends.