Seventeen-year-old Lexi has always wanted to know more about the mother who passed away when she was only a child. But her dad will barely talk about her. He says he’d rather live in the present with Lexi, her stepmom, and her half-brother. Lexi loves her family, too, but is it so wrong to want to learn about the mom she never got to know?
When Lexi’s grandma dies and secretly leaves her a worn blue chest that belonged to Lexi’s mother, Lexi is ecstatic to find a treasure trove of keepsakes. Her mom held onto letters, pamphlets, flyers, and news articles all from the same beautiful summertime getaway: Mackinac Island—plus a cryptic postcard that hints at a forbidden romance. If Lexi wants answers, this island is where she needs to go.
Without telling her dad, Lexi goes to the gorgeous Mackinac Island in Lake Superior, reachable only by ferry. Cars are forbidden and bikes are the number one mode of transportation along the quaint cobblestone streets, and the bright white hotel that looms like a high castle over charming cafés and bookshops. While following her mother’s footsteps, Lexi befriends an elderly former Broadway star and a charming young hotel worker while quickly falling in love with her surroundings.
But though the island may be beautiful, it’s hiding unfortunate secrets—some with her mother at the center. Could some questions be best left buried beneath the blue waters?
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own, and I am writing a voluntary review.
So before we launch into the review, just pause and look back at the cover. Isn’t it darling? This is literally why I first considered reading this book.
Alright, now we can move on to the important stuff. Let’s start with the plot. While the ‘teenage girl trying to find out information about her late mother’s past life’ is definitely a common trope, Platt did a good job executing it. I was completely engaged in what was going on in both timelines, and I had no idea how it was going to end (I had a hypothesis that turned out to be right, but I was really just guessing). The way that Platt brought Mackinac Island to life was amazing, and now I must plan a trip there. The carriages, lake, forest, and environment overall sound like a dream (don’t believe me? Just look at this and you will be convinced).
On to the characters, they are generally well developed, engaging, and relatable. Emma’s narrative read just like Rapunzel from Tangled, and I loved how different and unique each character was.
My absolute favorite part about this book was how Platt addressed risky behaviors so common throughout the YA genre. So many YA books I’ve read recently treat drugs/alcohol/etc. in a ‘boys will be boys’ type of way, which drives me crazy because the more we normalize or excuse behaviors, the more prevalent they will be. Was there underage drinking in this book? Yes, and it was clearly portrayed as an irresponsible decision. Even the way that this book treats sex is unique. One teen couple does sleep together, but there are absolutely zero details given, and that physical aspect wasn’t the basis of their relationship. It was like a minor add-on instead of the focal point. Also, the real OTP in this story had such a healthy relationship. They truly wanted what was best for the other person, and it was so sweet to watch.
I really only have a few minor complaints. First, I wish that we had gotten more details about the event at the climax of the story. I was left with a few questions that I would have loved answers to. Second, I would have loved an epilogue, or at least another chapter taking place six months later or something. Finally, this was a really long book. Normally with split timelines I feel like I get gypped on both storylines, but this one I feel like we could have cut back and still gotten a good amount for both.
Overall, this was a delightful summer read!
Content warnings: There are several characters who are LGBTQ, a smattering of mild language, and some mild references to sexual topics.