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Book Review: The Best of Us by Sarah Pekkanen

Two weeks ago, the kids and I had our first beach picnic of the year. It felt great to dig my toes into the sand and listen to the whoosh of the waves. And tomorrow? We’re supposed to get our first 70+ degree day of the year. Do you know what all this adds up to?

It’s almost beach season. And with beach season comes beach reading season. I can hardly wait.

In the meantime, I am reading double time to find the best and most enjoyable books for reading on the beach this year. Expect a bunch of book reviews to come in the next few weeks.

First up? The Best of Us by Sarah Pekkanen, which releases tomorrow (April 9, 2013).

This book is told from varying perspectives. Four college friends, and their significant others, head off on a dream vacation to celebrate a 35th birthday. They are staying at a private villa in Jamaica where meals are prepared for them and activities are planned — courtesy of the birthday boy’s new wife, Pauline. It’s a much-needed getaway for the friends who are stressed and in need of a break. For Tina, the mother of four young kids, it’s a breather from her busy life. For Allie, it’s a diversion from bad news about an illness that may run in her family. For Savannah, it’s both an escape and a chance to finally reveal her husband’s infidelity that has led the couple to separate.

At first, the vacation is every bit the dream they thought it would be. But after a few days, as a hurricane approaches the island, the friends are forced to really face what’s happening in their lives — and what they want to change. That’s where the book really gets interesting — because the journeys are twisty and sometimes dark.

The Best of Us is a story of friendship, love, marriage, those burning questions and forgiveness. But it’s not exactly a feel-good read. In fact, when I finished the book, I was a little sad because things didn’t wrap up in a neat, pretty bow. But then again, maybe it’s better that way.

In terms of readability, the storyline is interesting and kept me coming back evening after evening. As the back story of the friends unfolded, the characters became fully dimensional — a great thing.

But what I wasn’t fond of? While the story wrapped up, I would have liked some closure — perhaps a look at the friends a few months down the line. Seeing them fit back into their lives (and if the changes really took) would have improved the ending for me. Also, the character of Gio rubbed me the wrong way. I felt like there was more intrigue to him than the author let on, and there was one part involving him that just seemed to ring completely false.

So would I recommend this? Maybe. I love Sarah Pekkanen’s writing style, and the storyline kept me hanging on throughout. But it’s not the feel-good beach read I prefer.

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