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    An impressive debut

    It’s the summer after high school graduation in the small beachside holiday town of Oar’s Rest. Babe has been looking forward to spending it with her best friend Penny and Penny’s boyfriend Chad. Babe knows things will change when they start college, she just wasn’t expecting it to happen so quickly. First, a misunderstanding leads to her losing both of her friends. Then Levi, the cute customer at the coffee shop where she works, catches her attention - but she knows better than to date a summer boy after what happened to her mother. And, finally, her ex shows up and starts making waves. It’s not quite the summer Babe was expecting. But it might just turn out to be even better. It took a while to get the drift of this book, as I couldn’t tell who the narrator was or even what sex they were for half of the first chapter. In addition, it felt like I had missed a previous book, as we are thrown into the story and given very little background information. For example, it’s not explained how two recent high school graduates have their own homes (Babe the lighthouse and Penny the houseboat) until about a quarter of the way in. The chapters are very long, and the book is extremely long overall for a young adult novel, although it’s probably technically new adult (but without the explicit sex). There’s a lot of unnecessary detail throughout, but it all adds to the atmosphere. The book is extremely well-written, with near-perfect editing, and littered with gorgeous seaside similes and metaphors. Sights, sounds, tastes, and smells are evocatively portrayed, and I loved the descriptions of the food, so much so that I was disappointed there was no recipe at the end. Perhaps an accompanying cookbook is in order? By the end, you’ll want to visit this town and meet all of its inhabitants. An impressive debut. Warnings: coarse language, underage drinking, sexual references, LGBT themes, drug use. I received this book in return for an honest review. Full blog post (22 March): https://www.booksdirectonline.com/2019/03/small-town-hearts-by-lillie-vale.html
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