Things that “A Beach Wish” does well:
A variety of woman leaders, each with diverse personalities, vulnerabilities, and goals.
Complex motivations dictated by hope and fears from experiences.
Displaying the holes we leave in our relationships, and what we do to fill them.
What it lacks:
Shelly Nobel’s friendly, easy read, “A Beach Wish,” felt strangely familiar to me. She jogged my memory with the names of bridges and descriptions of commutes between Long Island and NYC, but this story takes place in one of the little New England towns so determined to be adorable that you can predict the sidewalk pattern three blocks ahead.
Her story is entirely relationship driven, which took some getting used to for me. There are no precious gems to recover or cryptograms to decipher. But, her main characters are refreshingly kind to each other. Seriously, if I’m going to spend hours with pretend people and invite them into my brain, I’d like them to be not jerks. Sure, the compassionate relationship immediately forms between the two main characters felt slightly forced, but I like the ideas of people trying to make the best of a situation. If it was me, I’m not sure I’d warm to my . . . I won’t spoil it for you.
Not that Nobel leaves the reader in suspense very long. I guessed the twist early, proudly announced to my husband that I’d figured it out, only to have it spoiled within two chapters BY THE AUTHOR. I was miffed, then I remembered that this isn’t a mystery novel. Instead it is a story about people. Just people. And how they don’t change. And how they do. And how teenagers really are crazy, and they won’t always be like that, until they are really old and then are crazy in a different way.
Also there is a goat. Not sure how that fits into animal laws in New Hampshire, but I’m not planning on looking it up. Don’t mess with Dulcie.