About the Book:
When Oakley Nelson loses her older 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 a few months in California with Aunt Jo, Oakley isn’t sure 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 that’s when 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 knows she must learn to listen and trust again. But will she have to leave the past behind to find happiness in the future?
This Edelweiss galley has been on my Kindle for a long time and who knows why it caught my eye today. It is the story of Oakley, who had been the all-American high achieving, over-involved high school student until her brother became ill with cancer, at which point she pretty much dropped out of life. After he is buried, she and her mother go to California for a few months. Oakley is depressed and is allowing life to pass her by. Her mother gives her a book of letters from her brother, which encourage her to move beyond where she is and live again. Of course that is easier said than done, but the cute boy next door is there to help her.
I found Oakley to be reasonably believable. I would expect a high school senior who has recently lost someone she loved to be self-absorbed and emotional. I did not find Carson to be believable--everything about him made him seen like a mature man, not a high school boy. He wasn't a bit selfish, he showed emotional insight, and he didn't allow Oakley's rejection to dissuade him.
The story at times could be a real tear-jerker and I found tears rolling down my cheeks so there was enough realism to tug at my heartstrings--but I found the relationship between Oakley and Lucas to be more real than the one between Carson and Oakley.
I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via Edelweiss. Grade: B+