Thursday, June 18, 2015

Review: Love, Lucas by Chantele Sedgwick

Publication Date: May 5, 2015
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Review Copy from Edelweiss
A powerful story of loss, second chances, and first love, reminiscent of Sarah Dessen and John Green.

When Oakley Nelson loses her older brother, Lucas, to cancer, she thinks she’ll never recover. Between her parents’ arguing and the battle she’s fighting with depression, she feels nothing inside but a hollow emptiness. When Mom suggests they spend a few months in California with Aunt Jo, Oakley isn’t sure a change of scenery will alter anything, but she’s willing to give it a try.

In California, Oakley discovers a sort of safety and freedom in Aunt Jo’s beach house. Once they’re settled, Mom hands her a notebook full of letters addressed to her—from Lucas. As Oakley reads one each day, she realizes how much he loved her, and each letter challenges her to be better and to continue to enjoy her life. He wants her to move on.

If only it were that easy.

But then a surfer named Carson comes into her life, and Oakley is blindsided. He makes her feel again. As she lets him in, she is surprised by how much she cares for him, and that’s when things get complicated. How can she fall in love and be happy when Lucas never got the chance to do those very same things?

With her brother’s dying words as guidance, Oakley knows she must learn to listen and trust again. But will she have to leave the past behind to find happiness in the future?

My Thoughts:

Love, Lucas by Chantele Sedgwick is not the first, and probably won’t be the last, time I come across a book about a young character going through the emotions caused by the death of a sibling. What made me intrigued was the idea of the letters left by the sibling to be used as a sort of guidepost to life after the enormous loss. Unfortunately very quickly I realized that Love, Lucas did not include the emotional punch I was expecting but rather left me feeling quite disappointed and somewhat annoyed.

Oakley has lost her brother Lucas to cancer. About two weeks after the death she travels to California with her mother to visit her aunt Jo. There she meets Carson, this supposedly sweet and funny guy that very quickly seems to take her focus away from her grief. A bunch of misunderstandings and overly melodramatic events follow and the book ends with a ridiculous accident that just ended up taking all credibility away from the book in my eyes.

Throughout this book, I desperately wanted to like Oakley and feel for her, but the more and more I kept reading, the more annoyed I got with her. She’s one of those very cliche, clumsy, “I am very bad with guys” types that categorizes herself as a “dork” just because she sometimes says the wrong time at the wrong time or because she was in the swim team in high school (aren’t athletes supposed to be “not dorks?”). She also uses the word “cute” A LOT and seems to think very little of herself. For example, after crying about her brother, she is embarrassed because she looks like “a monster” and she does not want Carson to see her like that. In general, she is annoyingly superficial and just seems much younger than she is stated to be in the book (she’s 17 but for most of the time she acts like she’s 13). She has gone through a horrible tragedy, but the way she deals with it just did not make me feel sympathy in any way.

For about half of the book I thought Carson was alright but then there was this one scene that just completely ruined him for me. Basically, after Oakley tells him about Lucas, he is first all sympathetic and understanding. Then Oakley goes to wipe away her “monstrous” tears and kind of fakes a smile just to show that she’s done with speaking about her brother to which Carson responds by saying that Oakley has a “beautiful smile” and that “she should smile more often”. WHAT? She has just told that she has lost her brother recently and you tell her to smile more often. MAYBE SHE DOES NOT FEEL LIKE SMILING? AND FIRST OF ALL, SHE WOULDN’T HAVE TO SMILE EVEN IF NOTHING BAD WOULD HAVE HAPPENED. God, this got me riled up.

About 80% into the book there is this SUPER CLICHE accident in the book that just hit the final nail to the casket. Seriously, melodrama to the top.

In general, this book read like a very cliche TV movie. I feel like the events unfolded way too quickly - just a couple of weeks after losing her brother Oakley is already traipsing around the beach and crushing on boys. PLEASE NOTE THAT I AM NOT SAYING THAT SHE SHOULD GRIEF FOR THE REST OF HER LIFE. I am just staying that her actions do not fit her thoughts at all.

The letters from Lucas are one of the strongest parts of the book at first, but I feel like they start to repeat themselves as the novel develops and in the end, I did not really feel for Lucas that much either. I hope this review does not make me sound like I’m heartless or anything, but really, it just didn’t make me feel anything at all. 

One Snowflake


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