Friday, 25 September 2015

Book Review: Edgewater by Courtney Sheinmel.

Product details:  
Publisher: Amulet Books.
Hardcover, 336 pages.
Release date: September 8th 2015.
Rating:  4 out of 5.
Ages: 14+
Source: Received from publisher for review.

 Lorrie Hollander used to be a rich girl, but now she’s lost everything because of the secrets and lies of the people around her. It’s been 12 years since Lorrie’s mother skipped town and left Lorrie in the care of her unstable aunt Gigi. Together they live in a neglected, decrepit mansion called Edgewater, the eyesore in a town of extraordinary wealth and privilege.

When Charlie, the son of an esteemed senator, takes an interest in Lorrie, her shame for her family and lifestyle runs deep. But what she doesn’t know is that Charlie’s family is hiding something, too, and that their secrets are inextricably tied. Now Lorrie must confront the truth about her family—and everything she ever thought she knew about herself.

Grey Gardens meets Scandal via The O.C. in Edgewater, Courtney Sheinmel’s YA debut.  Beautifully written and compelling throughout, Edgewater, named after the dilapidated mansion which houses our heroine, is a late-night guilty-pleasure Soap Opera in book form. Shocking drama, dashingly handsome hunks, political intrigue and family secrets are the page-turning order of the day!

Lorrie Hollander has never had to worry about money. Ever since her mother left to start a new life with her boyfriend twelve years previously, Lorrie and her sister have been in the care of their eccentric aunt Gigi and a seemingly bottomless trust fund, courtesy of mom –well, it’s the least she could do!  The family comes from money and their stead may once have been a grand old mansion, but aunt Gigi isn’t one for home maintenance, preferring instead to spend her money on extravagant parties and expensive designer shoes. As such the mansion has long since fallen into disrepair, overrun by cats and raccoons, and hated by well-to-do neighbours.

Away at riding camp for the summer, Lorrie soon finds out that her fees haven’t been paid. Worse still, it seems that this isn’t, as Lorrie first thinks, just an administrative oversight.  Lorrie can’t pay her fees, because there is no money. Her cards are declined at every turn. The money has gone, vanished.  Heartbroken Lorrie has to leave her beloved horse Orion behind and return to Edgewater to find out just what exactly is going on. On her return she discovers that things are worse than she could ever have imagined. She’s so flat broke she can’t even pay her phone bill. And aunt Gigi, oblivious to it all, is still buying new designer shoes while her house crumbles around her. Lorrie is at her wits end.  And she’s stuck at home for the summer where she has to take a job mucking out stables in order to raise the cash to bring Orion home. Then she meets Charlie Copeland – ah, the silver lining to Lorrie’s cloud.

Too-good-looking-by-far and with better hair than you or me, Charlie Copeland is the kind of guy dreams are made of.  The son of a senator, Charlie is golden boy with a penchant for rule-breaking and the kind of endlessly sunny nature that is only ever borne from absolute privilege.  This guys’ family is Kennedy-alike, he has the looks of Nate Archibald (Gossip Girl fans!) and a private beach to boot. Who could resist? Not Lorrie. Our girl is instantly smitten and feeling is entirely mutual as far as Charlie is concerned. So begins the summer romance of Lorrie’s dreams. But it’s not all plain sailing. Oh, no. Where would be the fun in that?! Lorrie, determined to keep up well-to-do appearances, lies to Charlie about everything –even her name- right from the off. Never a good idea! And it seems that too-good-to-be-true Charlie just might have some secrets of his own. Hmmm…

An engagingly written, absorbing read, Edgewater is the kind of book that demands to be read in one sitting. In fact, I did just that.  This book is a quick read, and while all the major components of the central mystery are expertly solved in a plot-twist filled conclusion of a-ha realizations, I have to say that I wasn’t entirely satisfied with how certain ending-elements of this book played out. It all wraps up very quickly and neatly and I guess I wanted more.  More of certain characters, mostly. Beyond the fact that he is too good-looking for words, we never really get to know Charlie - and to this effect the apparent depth of feeling in his relationship with Lorrie towards the end of the book didn’t really ring true for me.

But maybe that’s just a personal thing. I’m big into getting to know characters beyond their shiny surfaces. Is there more to Charlie than just nice guy with a pretty face? I’m not quite sure about that. But maybe a pretty face is enough for a summer romance? In fact, I’m pretty sure it is!

If you love Grey Gardens and the TV show Scandal, beautiful writing and books that keep you guessing, then Edgewater is the book for you. Beyond the Grey Gardens references I wasn’t really sure what this book was about when I picked it up, but the enigmatic nature of this book is all part of its endless, multi-layered charm, and for that, Edgewater gets a thumbs up from me.

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