Book Review: Second Star (by Alyssa B. Sheinmel)

After I wrote this review, I read some other reviews and realized how funny it is that different readers pick out different things about books to focus on. There is a lot in this novel I didn’t write about, but I usually try to just give a brief synopsis and my opinion. If any of my reader friends read this after its release in May, I’d be interested to hear what things stood out to you. 

Second StarSecond Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The story of Peter Pan was never one of my favorite childhood stories, but I’m a sucker for retellings, so I was intrigued by the synopis of this book when I was given the chance to read the ARC copy from NetGalley.

Wendy Darling can’t shake the idea that her two brothers, missing and presumed dead, are still. In fact, she can’t let the idea go, despite the pleadings of her best friend and parents to come to terms with it. Under the pretense of a road trip, she heads down the coast to look for John and Michael. On her search, she comes across a group of surfers, runaways who spend their days catching waves and stealing from the area’s empty houses to feed themselves. Her search starts to reveal things about her brothers, the people she’s spending her summer with, the pull of the ocean, and her own strength.

While the characters aren’t original (obviously), they are well written and good interpretations of the original characters, at least from what I can remember. A few liberties were probably taken, but that’s the nature of a modern reinvention.

I thought the writing was strong. The cadence of the prose is slightly disjointed, not because of bad technique, but because it lets the reader feel the dreamlike grief state that Wendy is in. Parts of the book become sharper and lighter, and those parts correspond to the parts of the storyline where Wendy comes out of her grief, even for short periods of time.

I doubt if I would have chosen a book about surfing, as it’s not a topic that interests me, but I enjoyed this book. For me, there were only a few issues. Some of the surfing talk got a little boring, so I found myself spacing out. The romance aspect of the book is weird and takes a different twist from both the original Peter Pan story and in general. I mostly liked it, but it was different.

Though I think this is a slower, sleepier read, it was also a good one. The narrative itself was enjoyable, and it’s the type of story that lends itself to dissection and discussion about grief, growing up, and psychology. I recommend this one to people who enjoy fairy tale retellings and coming of age novels.

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