This is a contemporary YA story that follows three teens: twin brothers, Ellis and Tommy, and a girl named Harlow, who is best friends with Ellis but enemies with Tommy. A lot is going on here with these three characters: Harlow is determined to save her small hometown of West Finch from falling into the ocean, as it’s slowly getting was washed away by the town’s seasonal storms. One of the twins has lost a leg from an accident, and the other is bi. One of them suffers from crippling depression and attempts suicide, and the other ignores his problems, hoping they’ll disappear. One is a track star, the other an artist.
This was quite a riveting character study, even though I found all three of them mostly unlikeable, and their relationships are overall unhealthy. But the fact that each of them was extremely complex and multi-layered, however, kept me eagerly reading the story. The complicated and odd dynamics between them sucked me right in. There were also so many compelling themes in this story, such as the pain that results from knowing someone too well, a complicated love triangle, disability, nature conservancy, climate change, depression, the need to “fix” others, and being emotionally shut off from those around you. I did enjoy the conversation and realistic portrayal of depression/mental health issues in the story and thought the author handled them exceptionally well.
Now I will say that I was not a fan of the ending, though, and felt mostly unsatisfied when I finished the book. It was more of a “non-ending” than an ending. Still, I thought this was a compelling story and well worth the read. The novel’s small-town vibe really worked for me, especially the colorful secondary characters. Ending notwithstanding, I found this to be a moving and emotionally searing novel about the deep bonds of family and friendship that is well worth the read.
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