Seventeen year-old Jonah Daniels has lived in Verona Cove, California, his whole life, and only one thing has ever changed: his father used to be alive, and now he is not. With a mother lost in a deep bout of depression, Jonah and his five siblings struggle to keep up their home and the restaurant their dad left behind. But at the start of summer, a second change rolls in: Vivi Alexander, the new girl in town.
Vivi is in love with life. Charming and unfiltered, she refuses to be held down by the medicine she’s told should make her feel better. After meeting Jonah, she slides into the Daniels’ household seamlessly, winning over each sibling with her imagination and gameness. But it’s not long before Vivi’s zest for life begins to falter. Soon her adventurousness becomes all-out danger-seeking.
Through each high and low, Vivi and Jonah’s love is put to the test . . . but what happens when love simply isn’t enough?
This book was what I needed and I didn’t even know it. It’s fun, serious, and fluffy all in one and in all the right places. It’s easy to love the characters and fall in love with Vivi and Jonah’s story. The writing style is easy-going, which makes this book quick to devour in a short time, but not where you don’t remember anything about it. It’s a book that sticks with you when you’re done.
This is a book where the characters made the story. Vivi is a spitfire, and it’s hinted right from the start that she’s bipolar, though through most of the book she refuses to take her meds to prevent hypomanic episodes from occurring. She’s in love with life and wants to live it – not just exist and feel like she’s drowning under the influence of medication. However, her adventures become a bit dangerous – mainly to herself – which in turn gives a scare to her mother and Jonah. Vivi learns that it’s not a bad thing to be in control of her bipolar disorder, but it might take some time and trial and error to get it more under control. Aside from that, she’s a dreamer and she’s great with all of Jonah’s family – which is so adorable – as well as the residents of Verona Cove.
“My dark days made me strong. Or maybe I already was strong, and they made me prove it.”
Jonah is such a sweetheart. He’s still dealing with the loss of his dad and is helping his elder siblings to take care of their three younger siblings. Their mom is still alive, but is in a depression after losing her husband, and while Jonah and his siblings need their mom, they don’t want to push her to move on if she’s not ready to. Jonah doesn’t even resent his mom for not taking care of the household; he just does his part and it’s forced him to grow up a little faster than his peers. They way he is with his younger siblings is so sweet and makes you love his character so much. He comes out of his shell a bit when Vivi comes to Verona Cove, and he immediately falls for her and her passion for life. They both came into each other’s lives when they needed each other the most.
I really enjoyed Jonah’s family. The siblings were such a tight-knit bunch and yet each had their own personality. I’m an only child, but if I were to have siblings, then these were the siblings I wish I’d had. In fact, I wish I lived in a community like Verona Cove. They’re all so close (kind of like Stars Hollow in Gilmore Girls) and are ready to help each other when needed.
“When we collided, we bounced each other back into orbit. And how we have to do that – we have to return to our own paths because that’s what we gave each other.”
Going back to Vivi’s bipolar disorder – I love that there’s a representation of that mental illness in this book and that there was no stigma attached to it. The stigma of bipolar and depression was discussed by some of the characters (as more than one went through depression) and how it’s okay to get help. I’m honestly just a sucker for books that deal with mental illnesses and use characters to portray them in different ways – because everyone is different, so these disorders don’t always look the same in each person. It was pretty fitting that I read this book during mental health awareness month.
Between the book’s characters, setting, and focus on mental health, I couldn’t help but love it entirely. It was a quick, easy read that still gave me time to fall for the characters and their story. As I mentioned, it’s one that will stick with me and I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. And because of the setting, I definitely recommend it as a summer read!
Rating: 4.5/5 stars