Author: Rebecca Maizel
Synopsis: Ever since Sarah was born, she’s lived in the shadow of her beautiful older sister, Scarlett. But this summer on Cape Cod, she’s determined to finally grow up. Then she meets gorgeous college boy Andrew. He sees her as the girl she wants to be. A girl who’s older than she is. A girl like Scarlett.
Before she knows what’s happened, one little lie has transformed into something real. And by the end of August, she might have to choose between falling in love, and finding herself.
Huge thank you to the publisher for sending me an advanced copy of this!
Sadness. This book did not jive with me at all. I did not hate it, but I did not like any of the characters and really did not like the MC’s actions at all.
This book is about a girl who lives in her charismatic sister’s shadow. Sarah, who goes by the nickname ‘Bean’ is a quiet girl who lives for the stars. She studies them and is tracking a comet as a project for her scholarship application. She goes to a fancy school that her parents can’t really afford (her dad is a scientist who… doesn’t have a very stable ‘job’ and her mother got laid off) so she’s trying hard to get this scholarship. The older sister, Scarlet, is going to Julliard and every summer the family spends time with Aunt Nancy, a well-off great-aunt of Sarah’s. Nancy supports their family financially so they feel obliged to basically do whatever she says.
After some heartbreak at the start of the book Sarah decides that this summer is going to be different. She’s turning sixteen and she’s going to be more like Scarlet. So when Scarlet goes to NYC for a month Sarah decides to conduct the ‘Scarlet Experiment’ to see if she can be more like Scarlet and basically, make friends and attract guys.
So Sarah dons Scarlet’s clothes and heads down to the beach. She meets a guy and tries to act like her sister, but kinda sucks at it. Incidentally the guy she meets, Andrew, likes her for her, and they start to talk. He thinks her fascination with the stars is amazing and he thinks she is pretty. Only thing is… Sarah is only 15 (going on 16) and Andrew is 19 (going on 20). So what does Sarah do? She lies to him about her age and says that she’s going to college in the fall. Only this lie doesn’t work out too well for her because he goes to BU and oh she says she’s going to MIT…and the two schools are across the river from each other.
Sarah then spends the rest of the summer falling in love with Andrew. She keeps wearing her sister’s clothes and sneaking out but her family never notices. They think she’s just looking at the stars or in her room studying. They pay no attention to her. I felt bad for her, and totally understood how it felt to be in the shadow of a sibling and how frustrating it can be to change and not have those around you either see it or accept it. THAT part of the story I liked.
I did not like that Sarah and Andrew’s relationship was built on a lie. And that she was being so selfish and jeopardizing his future. This is the part that did the book in for me. She was so caught up in him ‘seeing her’ that every time she tried to tell him the truth she just never did. And she doesn’t. Until the very end. And I was so happy with his reaction because it was so realistic. I did not expect that end and I was glad for it. Until the ‘one year later’ part. Because no.
I also didn’t like how irresponsible Sarah was being. I was not against her changing and growing up, but there were a few times I wanted to be like WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! Especially when it came to the scholarship that she was applying for. (which, btw, we NEVER find out if she gets it and that bugged me SO much because it was SUCH an essential part, at least the comet was, and I felt like that was a part of it).
The writing is also a little awkward at times. I found myself re-reading lines trying to figure out what it was trying to say. And I’m torn about how sex was handled in this book. I am NOT against sex in YA, and think that it’s very important. But this was a bit more explicit than what I’m used to when it comes to YA. It was very detailed and there was no fade to black. I was impressed with the author’s boldness, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen oral sex in YA before. So bravo but at the same time, hmmm.
Overall I feel like you can find books like this that handle the situation better. And if you’re just looking for a fun summertime beach contemporary then check out Sarah Dessen.