Seventeen-year-old Lexi has always wanted to know more about the mother who passed away when she was only a child. But her dad will barely talk about her. He says he’d rather live in the present with Lexi, her stepmom, and her half-brother. Lexi loves her family, too, but is it so wrong to want to learn about the mom she never got to know?
When Lexi’s grandma dies and secretly leaves her a worn blue chest that belonged to Lexi’s mother, Lexi is ecstatic to find a treasure trove of keepsakes. Her mom held onto letters, pamphlets, flyers, and news articles all from the same beautiful summertime getaway: Mackinac Island—plus a cryptic postcard that hints at a forbidden romance. If Lexi wants answers, this island is where she needs to go.
Without telling her dad, Lexi goes to the gorgeous Mackinac Island in Lake Huron, reachable only by ferry. Cars are forbidden and bikes are the number one mode of transportation along the quaint cobblestone streets, and the magical hotel that rests alongside cozy cafés and bookshops. While following her mother’s footsteps, Lexi befriends an elderly former Broadway star and a charming young hotel worker while quickly falling in love with her surroundings.
But though the island may be beautiful, it’s hiding unfortunate secrets—some with her mother at the center. Could some questions be best left buried beneath the blue waters?
I completely enjoyed reading this book, following Lexi on her journey to learn more about her late mother, Emma, and the life she lived before marrying Lexi’s father. It was interesting how Emma grew up in an entirely different world than Lexi – a world of privilege but with controlling parents. While we, the readers, see Emma’s world in its entirely as the story goes between Emma’s POV in the past, Lexi (in her chapters) is piecing her mother’s life together from tidbits of information she has in a box that was her mother’s.
The story was very moving, in that I really felt for Lexi because she never got to know her mother in any way, other than knowing she was an artist. In a way, it made me not like her father for never talking about Emma to Lexi, but I can understand why, in a way. Losing someone is painful, and people are afraid to talk about their deceased loved ones because it might be painful. Only, I feel that more often than not, it’s therapeutic to talk about them. Maybe not right away, but in time, and Lexi’s father definitely had time (not to mention he remarried, so he did find love again).
What I really loved about this book was the ‘then & now’ element. So instead of just learning about Emma’s life through postcards or letters, as Lexi did, we got to see her life lived out between ages seventeen and eighteen. I felt the most for Emma because her parents were just so controlling that I couldn’t stand them. It kind of reminded me of Rose off of Titanic, and how she felt like she was trapped because her whole life was planned out ahead of her and she felt trapped. Heck, I even felt trapped reading her part of the story.
Lexi’s chapters were enjoyable as she was on an adventure by herself, meeting fun characters along the way, and trying to learn as much about her mother in five days while trying to make sure her father doesn’t find out that she is on Mackinac Island instead of a college tour. My only issue is that I wish there had been more of Lexi’s chapters – for every Lexi chapter there were three for Emma.
The story tied together beautifully, and I was excited to have figured out some of the ‘mysteries’ of Emma’s past before they were revealed. It was fun to read Emma’s story while Lexi was slowly piecing it together on her end years later. It’s my favorite thing about ‘then & now’ stories. Aside from Lexi not having as many chapters as I would have liked, the other thing I didn’t like much about this book was the length. I feel like it could have been shorter and still have been just as enjoyable. But that’s just my opinion.
Overall, this is a wonderful summer read, and hey, if you do like long books, this is a great one to read!
Rating: 4/5 stars