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Sunbathing, surfing, eating funnel cake on the boardwalk—Lucy loves living on the Jersey Shore. For her, it's not just the perfect summer escape, it is home. And as a local girl, she knows not to get attached to the tourists. They breeze in over Memorial Day weekend, crowding the shore and stealing moonlit kisses, only to pack up their beach umbrellas and empty promises on Labor Day. Lucy wants more from love than a fleeting romance, even if that means keeping her distance from her summertime neighbor and crush, Connor.
Then Superstorm Sandy tears apart her barrier island, briefly bringing together a local girl like herself and a vacationer like Connor. Except nothing is the same in the wake of the storm. And day after day, week after week, Lucy is left to pick up the pieces of her broken heart and broken home. Now with Memorial Day approaching and Connor returning, will it be a summer of fresh starts or second chances?
Jennifer was asked: What are your top 5 favorite titles and why?
It’s so hard to pick! I have some newer favorites from authors I’ve read more recently, like The Sky is Everywhere, by Jandy Nelson, and Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell, but I think I’ll keep this list “classic” and tell you what my all-time faves are because this list never changes.
- To Kill a Mockingbird. I re-read this book every few years and never get tired of it. Scout may be one of the most endearing characters in all of literature. From the opening line until the end, Scout speaks to me; telling an important story that is every bit as relevant today as it was when it was first published in 1960. Yes, I’ve already preordered Go Set a Watchman.
- Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, I recently read a list of important “must reads” in YA literature that’s been kicking around social media lately and was shocked to find that this title was not on it. What? I consider Judy Blume’s books to be the cornerstone of YA fiction. Judy Blume was one of my earliest and most important influences. Her books were groundbreaking and anyone writing YA today owes her a debt of gratitude.
- The Outsiders. See above regarding “grounding breaking,” and “debt of gratitude.” S.E. Hinton made me see storytelling in a new light and taught me the importance of voice.
- The Catcher in the Rye. I picked up this book for the first time in seventh grade. I’d finished a test early and my teacher told me to select a book off the classroom shelf and read quietly. No problem there. Not when I found this book to be absolutely mind blowing!! It was also un-put-down-able. I remember forgoing all homework that night until I finished it.
- A Wrinkle in Time. “Tesseract.” The word and its meaning have stuck with me since I was ten years old. It’s how Madeleine L’Engle explained time travel, a/k/a the wrinkle in time, and I thought it was brilliant. As a kid who grew up watching reruns of the original Star Trek series and The Twilight Zone, how could I not instantly love this book?
Connor opened the gorgeous double doors, each with half-moon stained-glass windows on the top, and motioned me inside. “After you.”
The house had that distinct yet hard-to-describe smell of a beach home that had been closed up for a while. I walked to the center of the high-ceilinged foyer and immediately pictured pine garland and twinkling white lights wrapped around the sweeping banister.
“Wow. I’d love to spend Christmas here,” I said and immediately regretted being so sappy.
Connor smiled. “You could fit a twelve-foot tree in this hallway.”
I admit, over the years I’ve had my share of Connor-centric fantasies. However the image of him watching his children pad down the stairs on Christmas morning had never been one of them…until that very second. I liked thinking about Connor that way.
“Come on. You’ve got to see the master bedroom.”
The wholesome image of a Malloy family Christmas vanished. Aha, I thought. That was the Connor I knew.
“Uh-uh,” I said. “The widow’s walk. I want to go there first.”
“Race you,” he said and took off running.
He beat me up the two flights and was waiting for me in the third-floor hallway toward the back of the house. Off the hallway was an art studio, with a drafting table and a bookcase. There was also a telescope standing near the window.
“Follow me.” He crossed the studio and unlocked the deadbolt to the narrow door leading outside.
“You’ve already been up there?”
“First thing I did when I got here,” Connor said.
“Not the master bedroom?”
“Nah, that’s the first thing I wanted to do when you got here.”
I thought it was just more flirty banter, but Connor’s flushed cheeks looked as warm as my body felt. He stared at me for a beat too long and my throat constricted. I was suddenly aware that I’d left the house with slept-on hair and no mascara. The look on Connor’s face told me he hadn’t noticed. His eyes never left mine.
Finally he said, “Come on, Luce. I’ll follow you.” The space was tight when I passed in front of him, and the closeness of his body gave me the shivers. I opened the door and stepped outside onto a small patio. I walked toward the wrought-iron spiral staircase that lead to the widow’s walk on the roof and placed my hand on the railing. My knees felt shaky as I began the climb, but I never looked back.