Thirty Sunsets

By Christine Hurley Derisco
Published on July 8 2014
Published by Flux
To Forrest Shephard, getting away to the family's beach house with her parents and her brother, Brian, is the best part of every summer. Until this year, when her mother invites Brian's obnoxious girlfriend, Olivia, to join them. Suddenly, Forrest's relaxing vacation becomes a mission to verify the reality of Olivia's rumored eating disorder. But the truth behind Olivia's finicky eating isn't at all what Forrest expected. And over the next thirty days, Forrest's world is turned upside down as her family's darkest secrets begin to come to light.

I requested this book naively thinking it was actually about struggles with an eating disorder. . . but by Chapter 2 I had already figured out the "big plot twist." Maybe it's because I'm older than the "target audience," but I found that aspect to be incredibly predictable.

I really liked the main character, Forest, and I was glad to see her transformation from naive girl to strong and confident young woman throughout the novel. Her voice was strong, as were the voices of the other teen characters. I suppose this could be considered a "coming of age" novel with lots of plot twists and turns.

Plot and Pacing: Here's where I have mixed feelings again. Don't get me wrong; this was a well written book that I think a lot of teens would appreciate. But something just seemed . . . off. I almost never say that YA novels have "too much" going on in them. Teens face so many issues on a daily basis that it's entirely likely that a girl like Forest would live through this series of major events piling on top of each other. However, the way the events were revealed seemed rushed and overwhelming to me as a reader. The way the parents hid certain family secrets from their children until they were almost adults seemed kind of strange too. I liked Forest, but I really didn't feel much connection to her mom and dad, even though they played a major part in most of the big plot twists.

Overall, though, I liked the growth of the main character. I think Forest learned the importance of learning who she was and sticking up for herself. This book does address some serious issues, but they're not the ones you think from the description!

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