When Oakley Nelson loses her brother, Lucas, to cancer, she thinks she’ll never recover. Between her parents’ arguing and the battle she’s fighting with depression, she feels nothing inside but a hollow emptiness. When Mom suggests they spend the summer in California with Aunt Jo, Oakley isn’t sure that a change of scenery will alter anything, but she’s willing to give it a try.In California, Oakley discovers a sort of safety and freedom in Aunt Jo’s beach house. Once they’re settled, Mom hands her a notebook full of letters addressed to her—from Lucas. As Oakley reads one each day, she realizes how much he loved her, and each letter challenges her to be better and to continue to enjoy her life. He wants her to move on.If only it were that easy.But then a surfer named Carson comes into her life, and Oakley is blindsided. He makes her feel again. As she lets him in, she is surprised by how much she cares for him, and things get complicated. How can she fall in love and be happy when Lucas never got the chance to do those very same things?
With her brother’s dying words as guidance, Oakley must learn to listen to and trust herself again. She soon realizes that second chances are ways to learn from the past, and you don’t always have to leave the past behind to find happiness in the future.
I received an ecopy of this book via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
This was such a beautiful book and it brought tears in my eyes, but it wasn't just sad tears, there were tears of happiness in there as well.
Oakley's brother, Lucas, just passed away from cancer. Lucas wasn't just Oakley's brother, but her best friend as well, so the loss of him is hurting her and she doesn't know how she will ever get over it or if she ever should. Her mother decides that she and Oakley should go to California and live for Aunt Jo for awhile. While there, Oakley finds comfort from a notebook full of letters Lucas wrote to Oakley during his last days, but she finds other surprising in California. She ends up befriending a surfer named Carson who helps her heal, but does she deserve happiness? When Lucas can't anymore? And how can she get close to someone again, when she's eventually going to leave?
There are numerous books out there focusing on grief, but death is something that happens in the real world all too often and the grief that comes with it is very raw. This book features this so realistically. Honestly, this book is entirely about Oakley trying to live her own life again after Lucas's death, which is much harder than it sounds. She doesn't want to forget Lucas and she doesn't feel like she could live happily anymore. This was dealt with so well and, honestly, even I almost cried while reading this book (I was at work, so I couldn't full-out cry without raising a few questions).
The character development was spot-on. Oakley grows so much throughout this book. She was fearful of being happy, but she was also very fearful of growing close to anyone. This causes her to make some dumb decisions throughout this book regarding relationships. She closes herself off and distances herself from not only perspective friends, but her family. She does eventually grow to realize what she's doing wrong and that Lucas would want her to be happy, but it's such a tragically beautiful growth.
There is a romance in this book, but it's very slow and realistic. Carson, our love interest, is such a great guy and he's very sweet. He understands Oakley and does his best to help her. He honestly does care about her, something that takes Oakley awhile to realize. Also, the romance is not the bigger picture in this book, this book is entirely about Oakley and Lucas which makes the book even better.
This was a very beautiful book about grief. This book did remind me very much of Sarah Dessen's style, with her coming of age tales and very raw books, but Chantele Sedgwick obviously has her own voice and she is a wonderful writer. I very much look forward to reading anything else she will write in the future!