Saturday, September 24, 2022

Postcards from Summer

Platt, Cynthia. Postcards from Summer
Published May 31st 2022 by Simon & Schuster
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

Lexi's mother died suddenly when she was five, so it was always her and her dad until he married Abby and the family included her and five year old Connor and older step sister Chloe. Her father has never talked much about her mother, and while life with her family is fine, she has always yearned to know more about her mother as a teenager. When Lexi gets a package in the mail from a nursing home in Michigan, it contains a homemade mosaic box and just enough information to lead Lexi to want to visit Mackinac Island and the grand Palais du Lac hotel. She feels that if she can be in a place her mother was, she can discover more about her. With the help of Chloe, she formulates a plan to tell her father she is visiting colleges, but go to Michigan. It works, and while she is going to owe her father big time for the bills she is running up, is about to find some information. In alternating chapters, we see her mother's experiences in about 2003 on the island. Emma's family stays at the hotel, and she's going back and forth between dating JR, whom she likes, and Ryan, whom her family prefers, and for whom she has a growing affection. Lexi visits the local library and doesn't find much, but does connect with a hotel employee her age, Caleb. He's irritated with her interruptions at first, but introduces her to a 97-year-old movie star, Ms. VanHill, who has spent many years at the hotel. Slowly, secrets are revealed about the past. As Lexi finds out more about who her mother was, will this impact her perception of what her own identity is?

I've wanted to go to Mackinac Island, and stay at the Grand Hotel after watching Somewhere in Time, so this virtual trip to a fictionalized resort was great fun! Lexi's longing to connect with the mother her father won't discuss makes her journey seem reasonable, and the mysteries she uncovers are quite surprising. While Lexi doesn't have a romance or an idyllic vacation, we get to see all of that in Emma's story. 

Emma was artistic and at odds with her family. She had good friends, like Linda, and got to explore the island and hang out at the hotel. The highlight of this book is definitely the romances with JR and Ryan, as well as the machinations of Emma's family to get her interested in Ryan. There's a lot of drama with JR, as well as some very poor choices all around. Unraveling the trail of names Emma went by leads Lexi to discover some truths about her own past that end up being completely different. I don't want to spoil the story, but there are some very interesting twists and turns. 

I really enjoyed the characters in Lexi's world, from the harried Caleb who resents the well-to-do patrons of the hotel who order him around, to supportive step-sister Chloe, to the fascinating Ms. VanHill, who was a pioneering Black actress who had to hide her relationships with other actresses. Lexi's family and friends are interesting as well, and there are some historical details about the early 2000s. 

Readers of Kacie West and books like Vivian's Stay Sweet will enjoy this summer read about family, friends, and hidden secrets. 

There's nothing that is too Young Adult in this one, but it comes in at 576 pages, with tiny print. I was going to send it on to the high school library, but put it in my collection because the cover is so pretty, and a couple of readers have checked it out this year. 

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