Sunday, March 2, 2014

Book Review: Thirty Sunsets by Christine Hurley Deriso

Expected publication: July 2014

Genre: Realistic Fiction, Young Adult

Forrest Shepherd is a sixteen-year-old girl wrapping up the last few weeks of her sophomore year. She is smart and witty. She seems confident in her own skin. And she's majorly crushing on a senior guy who barely notices she's alive. But the biggest challenge in Forrest's life is her nemesis - her brother's high maintenance, cheerleader girlfriend, Olivia.

Before Olivia, Brian had big plans. He wanted to go to Vanderbilt and study medicine. After Olivia, Brian throws away his acceptance letter to Vanderbilt and settles for the local community college so he can stay close to Olivia. Being very protective of her brother and his future, Forrest absolutely rues the hold Olivia has over her brother, who has made it clear that if he is forced to choose, he would choose Olivia over his own family. Forrest and her mother struggle to hide their disgust for Olivia in order to maintain a relationship with Brian.

Summer arrives and Forrest looks forward to saying goodbye to Olivia's drama and hello to a month at the family's modest beach house.

Except...Olivia is going to the beach house with them. How in the world could Forrest's mother betray her trust by inviting Olivia - the person who can single handedly destroy her brother's future - to spend an entire month with them? The summer has many, many surprises in store for Forrest. Some are pleasant, some are not-so-pleasant. Yet the result is a change of heart for Forrest and a new appreciation for the sacrifices her parents have made for their children.

Deriso has created a story that starts out seeming very shallow as two girls who can't stand each other are forced to share a room for an entire month. For Forrest, it's as if her personal paradise has been turned into Hell. As the story continues, Forrest discovers several family secrets that have been kept in the dark for years. The book transforms from a tale of shallow competitiveness to one of discovery as members of the Shepherd family, now including Olivia, work together to mend broken promises and hearts.

Thirty Sunsets is a both an entertaining and enlightening read for those who value strong female characters, self-discovery, and happy endings.

Disclosure: I received an ARC of Thirty Sunsets  from NetGalley in exchange for a review.

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