Reviewer Candace Lybarger: Candace is a young wife, mother, and lover of all books. She received her Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education from The Ohio State University. Candace taught 3rd grade until an opportunity presented itself where she could work from home and be with her toddler. In addition to spending time with her family, Candace enjoys reading, music, history, traveling, and spending time outdoors. Her perfect day in a nutshell would be sitting in the sun with a book...or two!
Author: Holly Robinson
Publisher: NAL Trade
Beach Plum Island, by Holly Robinson, is a wonderful novel revolving around family, friendship, love, and loss. I have to say that I absolutely adored this book and its characters! Beach Plum Island is told from the viewpoint of three sisters: Ava, Elaine, and Gigi. When Ava and Elaine were young adults, their father left his unhappy marriage to their mother and married a much younger woman. Gigi was born shortly after and to Elaine became someone to blame for her father's abandonment. Ava and Elaine kept their distance from their father and his new family and life went on. However, their father dies the summer of Gigi's Sophomore year and leaves his daughters a message that will either bring them together or tear them further apart.
Robinson did a fantastic job creating flawed characters that were both 3-diminsional and real. Each of the three sisters were struggling with their own demons throughout the novel. Ava is growing older and watching life pass her by, Gigi feels alone in the world, and Elaine is battling alcoholism and sex addiction which she uses to forget the past. I think readers will instantly find one of the sisters to connect with, be it Gigi, Ava, or Elaine.
Personally, I found myself loving both Gigi and Elaine. Teenage Gigi, shrouded in mourning, doesn't know who she is yet. She is struggling to find her place in the world but hopes to stay invisible with her multiple piercings and multicolored punk hair. However, when Gigi opens up and allows Ava and her nephews to really see her, she begins blossoming like a flower and finds a wealth of confidence.
I love that Elaine is so multifaceted. She had been babied by Ava all of her life and was used to having Ava all to herself. Ava always did everything for Elaine. Interestingly, Elaine is the one who was there for their mother in her final days and she carries a lot of guilt regarding her mothers life and sad death. Elaine is frightened that she is becoming like her mother and turns to alcohol and sex with strangers to bury her fear. I found Elaine's struggle with alcohol very realistic and fascinating. To fill the hole in her soul and feel halfway normal, Elaine resorts to sleeping with strangers and drinking her memories away. It takes several close calls to really wake Elaine up and make her realize that something has to give.
My favorite scene in the book is between Peter and Elaine. He could have easily hated her, but he didn't judge her nor was he ruffled by her abruptness. Elaine was able to show her true self to him and he embraced her fully, something that means a lot to Elaine. I loved how Peter simply understood her and accepted her, flaws and all.
If you are looking for a heartwarming story, please do yourself a favor and pick up Holly Robinson's Beach Plum Island. The characters will stay with you long after you put down the book. I guarantee you will find yourself smiling, laughing, and crying. What a great piece of literary work!