Saturday, May 10, 2014

YA ARC Review: Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Second Star
Author: Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Publication: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (May 13, 2014)

Description: A twisty story about love, loss, and lies, this contemporary oceanside adventure is tinged with a touch of dark magic as it follows seventeen-year-old Wendy Darling on a search for her missing surfer brothers. Wendy’s journey leads her to a mysterious hidden cove inhabited by a tribe of young renegade surfers, most of them runaways like her brothers. Wendy is instantly drawn to the cove’s charismatic leader, Pete, but her search also points her toward his nemesis, the drug-dealing Jas. Enigmatic, dangerous, and handsome, Jas pulls Wendy in even as she's falling hard for Pete. A radical reinvention of J. M. Barrie's classic tale, Second Star is an irresistible summer romance about two young men who have yet to grow up—and the troubled beauty trapped between them.

My Thoughts: This retelling of Peter Pan was an interesting story. Wendy Darling has just graduated from high school and embarks on a quest to try to find her younger twin brothers John and Michael who disappeared when school began. John and Michael were dedicated surfers who often skipped school to catch the waves. At first, the police think they just took off and that they would be returning. But as time goes on and there is no sign of them, the search ends leaving the family with no answers as to the boys' whereabouts. Then the police come and say that their boards have been found - broken and abandoned - and that the boys are dead despite the fact that their bodies haven't been found.

Wendy decides to use some of the summer before she goes off to Stanford to try to find the brothers that she is certain are still alive. She decides to check the beaches and to ask surfers if they have seen her brothers. She finds her way to an isolated and abandoned beachfront community called Kensington where she meets Pete, Belle, and a band of other young surfers who are squatting and stealing to live while surfing on the beach. There she also meets Jas who is Pete's former friend but current rival.

Jas is the local drug dealer pushing a drug called dust. When she learns that Pete has lied to her about her brothers, she flees to Jas but has to take the drug in order to be allowed to see him. She has a bad reaction but Jas nurses her through it and offers to help her find her brothers. Wendy falls for both boys in a a classic case of "insta-love" which, I felt, was the most unrealistic part of this whole story.

After a couple of close calls - of almost catching up to her brothers - Wendy decides to go home where things get really weird. Her best friend and her parents are sure that she has had some sort of bad drug dream and want to sent her to rehab. They don't believe that her brothers are still alive. She runs away again and comes home again.

The ending is open to interpretation and I'm not really sure which explanation I believe. I will be very eager to hear what other readers think about this very ambiguous story.

Favorite Quote:
I shake my head and look out at the beach in front of us, past the sunbathers and swimmers, to the spot where the water meets the sky. I never really understood how big the ocean was until the police said that the bodies of the two surfers went unrecovered; I'd always thought that things could be found, even in the ocean. Everything I'd ever lost had turned up if I just looked hard enough: keys, scarves, books. Maybe that's why I believe I can find my brothers. Nothing is ever really lost.
I got this ARC from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here.

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