I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
SparkPress, May 3rd, 2016
Melanie and Keith are a middle-aged couple with two sons: Seth and Dane. Seth has gone off to college and has become successful while Dane is entering his senior year of high school. Poor grades, no motivation, and a bleak future have Melanie worried. Add in the fact that she will have an empty nest soon and she believes her world is crumbling. Will he focus this year and pull his grades up to get in college? Or will he pursue his plan for life after high-school and become a musician?
Sarah and Jud are the picture-perfect family. Jud, an uber-wealthy successful plastic surgeon, and Sarah, his surgically-perfected wife, have a perfect GPA daughter, Ashley. Loved by all the students, this student-body president has a pretty clear future ahead of her. Already accepted into Harvard, she is focused on finishing strong. But when secrets start coming out in Sarah and Jud's seemingly perfect marriage, things may change.
Carol and Will have two daughters, Marni and Piper. Marni is entering the last year of high-school and is focusing on getting into college. Carol, the overly controlling mother and principal, is doing all she can while Will has found new life in another woman. Will has to face a tough decision, will he stay with his family and continue to be controlled, or will he pursue his affair?
David and Lauren are the typical "old and wealthy, young and hungry" husband and wife. Their daughter, Kylie, is a social outsider who is also a senior. When she catches her mom on the beach with someone other than David, she begins re question everything.
This book consists of these four families' lives intertwining in the town of Crystal Beach, CA. All the mothers are faced with having to adjust to life after high-school as their last child is soon to graduate. Some have plans, dreams, and goals while others do not. And in this town, looks are everything, so for the goal-less families, they had better fake it.
Rouda does a spectacular job at slowly getting the reader educated about each family and the struggles they are facing, whether its sexuality, greed, vanity, or all of the above, she carefully crafts this novel in such a way that it is similar to eating a rich dessert. Don't eat it all as quickly as you can but instead savor each bite or in this case, savor each chapter because they all slowly build to a fantastic, tragic, and rich book.
I found myself personally affected by each of their decisions. When the character would make a bad decision, I felt disappointed, and vice versa. Rouda has mastered character development and pacing while writing. This book is flawless. Literally, a grab you by the shirt and never let you go kind of novel.
But besides being just a phenomenal book, it felt real. It felt as though this all actually happened and she just wrote it down in a biographical context. I'm telling you, this woman can write.
Essentially, don't miss this book. Don't miss this adventure, this heartbreak, these moments of rejoicing, this novel where your heart will melt, break, and sing. This has to be easily the front-runner for Book of the Year.
I love to read and to discuss books. My preferred genre is sci-fi but I like to read mostly anything.