Gwen Castle has lived her entire life on Seashell Island where she’s part of the year-round working crew instead of the rich seasonal beachgoers with summer houses. Never before has she wanted so much to leave, mainly because of her Biggest Mistake Ever, aka Cassidy Somers, a rich boy who’s taken a summer job doing yard work on the island. She resolves to have nothing much to do with him, but he keeps putting himself in her way, doing nice favors. She has taken a new job with Mrs. Ellington, a rich kindly elderly woman who needs daily help, and Cassidy is the one cutting her lawn. Also, Gwen’s cousin, Nic, happens to be on the swim team with Cassidy. He’s everywhere! Her past and present collide as Gwen struggles to figure out what is really true with what she perceives as being true, with events spiraling outward to include her family and friends in a tale that balances right on the edge of the unknown.
I loved the characters in this book! They are so rich and real. I found Gwen’s perceptions to be hard to avoid adopting. She does so well at forcing you into her own view that you’re caught off guard the same as she is. I loved Cass, despite Gwen’s objections, and you can’t help rooting for him when all the reader sees are the glimpses that Gwen allows, not knowing the thing that has scarred her. At times, I was struggling to figure out what Gwen was trying so desperately hard to hide, and really, though it makes you believe it is awful, terrible (and everyone has their opinion), it was nowhere near as bad as I thought it was going to be. This book does a fantastic job of illustrating the BIG SECRETS that largely happen during junior and senior year–when everyone accepts the surface and hides their true feelings because they are afraid of the changes that will be thrust upon them so soon. At least, I found this to be true during my high school years. What I got from this novel is this: Don’t be afraid of changing your mind. You’re still developing your identity and thereby your real feelings. It’s okay to want something different than you’ve wanted in the past. Don’t be afraid to go after it because you’re stuck thinking that the way you’ve been is the way you must be.