Love blossoms between a summer boy and a local girl in a chaste romance set on the foggy coast of Maine.
Goofy out-of-towner Oliver sweeps the virginal, insecure Mandy off her feet with his warm smile and sketch pad. What follows is a whirlwind of blueberry hand pies, stolen kisses, and crafty high jinks to save the local lighthouse. Dalton's light prose sidesteps the current vogue for overwrought darkness in teen fiction; the only shadow cast on the romance is the inevitability of summer’s end, and the dramatic tension in their innocent attachment centers on Oliver’s wish for Mandy to find her voice and use it. Employing simple tropes—the misunderstood loner, the anxious-harridan mom, the beauty-queen best friend—Dalton imparts simple wisdom about being true to oneself and seeing beyond surface impressions of other people. The mildness of the story harkens back to an earlier era of teen romance, belying the ubiquity of cellphones and Internet connections. Readers titillated by the butt-groping clinch on the front cover may well be disappointed by the innocence within.
No new literary ground is broken here, but readers seeking a sweet story of first love will sigh appreciatively. (Romance. 11-14)