A suspenseful small-town mystery intertwined with a sweet love story lends a new twist to the summer beach read.
Shy, smart, somewhat socially awkward Helena is looking forward to escaping the petty dramas of high school and the drudgery of her waitressing job. Living with her two well-meaning aunts while managing juvenile diabetes, Helena hasn’t had the most typical adolescence, although she does have an agonizing crush on the cutest boy in school. But Helena’s relatively quotidian existence is turned upside down when Payton Meadows, the father of one of Helena’s former tutees, starts stalking her and making threats on her life, accusing her of having a hand in his son’s alleged murder. Is Meadows just delusional with grief over his son’s death, or has he uncovered a conspiracy that involves the people closest to Helena? The sudden appearance of Ben—a dishwasher at the restaurant, suspected drug dealer and conflicted police informant—is a further disruption, especially as Helena begins to uncover some surprising details of Ben’s former life. The reader, privy to Ben’s thoughts, will anticipate some—but refreshingly not all—of the novel’s emotional development. Hamilton has a natural ear for the subtleties of intergenerational dialogue, as well as a gift for efficient, nuanced observation. Although her prose occasionally drifts into cliché and Hamilton repeatedly substitutes vagueness for suspense and then rushes through the climax, there are enough surprising turns of phrase and plot twists to delight the seasoned reader. Knowing that you can’t hurry love, she aptly paces the growing relationship between Helena and Ben.
A quick-paced, emotionally satisfying thriller aimed at the sophisticated YA reader.