A search for meaning after her sister’s sudden death blossoms into a romantic road trip.
After her older sister, Storm—the one-of-a-kind, Polaroid-loving, list-obsessed, child-cancer survivor—dies in a car accident the day she graduates from high school, Anna is left in a daze, mindlessly shifting between her lifeguarding job and local parties as she tries to fathom her loss. When she discovers Storm’s final summer bucket list, she finds a new sense of purpose: complete every item with boy-next-door and Storm’s best friend, Cameron, by her side. As the two white teens road trip to North Carolina and cross off successive items—including getting a tattoo for Anna and crashing a wedding—they quickly realize their feelings for each other run deeper than their shared connection with Storm. While the tale will appeal to teens looking for a budding warm-weather romance, it doesn’t succeed on deeper levels. Readers learn little about Anna except that she is beautiful, which strangers unrealistically note at random, and the pacing feels misguided. Paragraphs are dedicated to detailing Anna’s best friend’s bedroom decorations and verbatim text conversations with her aunt while reducing potentially meaningful car-ride conversations to clichéd summaries: “We laughed and cried, remembering Storm.”
Plenty of romantic moments will make starry-eyed readers swoon, but what could have been an important story about confronting raw grief after a sibling’s death ultimately falls short. (Fiction. 14-18)