YA Review of Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel


Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Age Range: 12 – 18 years

Grade Level: 7 and up

Hardcover: 256 pages

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (May 13, 2014)

Series: None

Genre: Contemporary/retelling

Source: Publisher via NetGalley

My Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

About the Book:

A twisty story about love, loss, and lies, this contemporary oceanside adventure is tinged with a touch of dark magic as it follows seventeen-year-old Wendy Darling on a search for her missing surfer brothers. Wendy’s journey leads her to a mysterious hidden cove inhabited by a tribe of young renegade surfers, most of them runaways like her brothers. Wendy is instantly drawn to the cove’s charismatic leader, Pete, but her search also points her toward his nemesis, the drug-dealing Jas. Enigmatic, dangerous, and handsome, Jas pulls Wendy in even as she’s falling hard for Pete. A radical reinvention of J. M. Barrie’s classic tale, Second Star is an irresistible summer romance about two young men who have yet to grow up—and the troubled beauty trapped between them.  

About the Author:

I was born in Stanford, California, and even though I moved across the country to New York when I was six years old, I still think of myself as a California girl.

When I was little, I pretended that I didn’t like to read, because my sister loved to read, and I wanted to be different. (I also pretended that I didn’t like pizza, because it was her favorite food, I still get sad when I think of all the delicious pizza dinners I missed out on.) By the time I was eight, it was too hard to pretend I didn’t like to read, because the truth was that reading was my favorite thing in the world. I loved it so much that when there was nothing to read, I wrote my own stories just to give myself something to read. And when there was no pen and paper to be had, I made up stories and acted them out by myself. I played all the parts, and I was never bored.

When I was eleven years old, I began going to a school in Manhattan called Spence. The teachers there were very supportive of my reading and writing. One teacher there encouraged me to read F. Scott Fitzgerald, and another introduced me to magical realism, and another tried to convince me that there was more to Ernest Hemingway than lessons in fly fishing. (She was right, of course.) And still another let me write a sequel to one of my favorite novels and call it a school project, even though I would have done in my spare time just for the fun of it.

After Spence, I went across town to Barnard College. Once again, I had some of the best teachers in the world encouraging me to write, and introducing me to new authors. One of my very favorite teachers told me to read Joan Didion (and I didn’t thank him enough for that), and my other favorite insisted that there was nothing more to Ernest Hemingway than lessons in fly fishing (and I argued with her a lot about that).

After college, I got a job working in an office where I wore high heels and blazers and even the occasional stiff-collared blouse. I thought I would write on the side, but after a while, I stopped writing altogether – for over a year, I didn’t write a word except in my journal, a very strange thing for a girl who wrote stories from pretty much the time that she learned how to hold a pen.
But then, when I was 24, I began working at a new job, and the people there introduced me to great new writers, just like the teachers I’d had in school. I began to miss writing. It was boring when I wasn’t making up stories to keep myself entertained. And so – slowly, just for the fun of it – I began writing again, and in a couple years I had written the story that would become The Beautiful Between.

My Thoughts:

I’m not going to lie.  I had a major book hangover after reading this.  It’s a book that has received some very mixed reviews, but sometimes those are my favorite ones.  It was much different than I expected. It was a contemporary beach side version of the story of Peter Pan. I really really liked it.

Wendy’s brothers went missing months ago, their surf boards found washed up and broken to bits. But Wendy can’t accept the idea that her brothers are dead, so she goes searching for them and finds herself at a perfect beach with a bunch of other teens living in some abandoned homes. She meets Pete, Jas, and Belle there.

While this book is a contemporary story and doesn’t have magic or actual flying, some things come across as magical. I really liked the way the author explored different possibilities with this story. Maybe Wendy was crazy, maybe she wasn’t. I also liked the romance in the book, which is a rare thing for me in the YA category. I liked it because there wasn’t a real love triangle, in spite of the jacket description. Wendy falls for two different guys, but not simultaneously.

I liked the characters, especially Pete and Jas. The author captured them in a way that was familiar and new at the same time. I loved the way it ended. It was the perfect ending and made me smile.

Content: Some language, kissing, drug and alcohol use.

Source: I received a digital galley of this book in exchange for an honest review.


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