This is the story of Vivi and Jonah who meet one summer in Verona Cove and find themselves entangled in summer romance. Vivi and her mom come to stay in this beach town for the summer after some stuff goes down in their hometown, Seattle. Jonah is trying to recover from his father's sudden death but the deep depression his mom goes into afterwards makes that so hard.
Jonah is a chef-in-the-making working at the family restaurant and also trying to care for his brothers and sisters. Vivi is a free spirit who comes to know and love Jonah's family as her own.
The story unfolds through the the summer romance, Jonah's work at the restaurant, and Vivi's backstory.
While reading, I flagged some lines...
"I miss my dad so much that my stomach almost heaves."
"She's quiet again, but this time she grabs for my hand, gripping onto me for the miles and miles toward home. I steer one-handed."
"But that's life. Gotta deal with what you got."
"I follow her, watching the beautiful girl as she ducks into the back room. She looks like lemon meringue pie tastes. Sunny, tangy, sweet.
"He hands me my plate, and his smile is the faintest bit smug. "Viv, I just made you wild-caught Alaskan salmon baked with mango chutney, on a bed of garlic red potatoes and arugula. While talking about an Audrey Hepburn movie. I think you are maybe falling in love with me."
"Even Ruby once asked, Gosh Viv, do you keep track of how many guys you kiss? Nope! Because listen here, sisters: it's summer and this boy is handsome and kind, and, frankly, I want to kiss anything that makes me feel so seen."
"Later, in my room, I lift up my dress and twist to see the rainbow splotch of lotus on my side. And it occurs to me, what if I stopped hating it? What if the tattoo and the scar and this summer's freckles are my patina? Wabi-sabi says rust and faded paint hold beauty. So what if I left these marks be passport stamps from where I've been - ones that don't determine a damn thing about where I'm going next? What if I apologized to Amala and Ruby and didn't give a shit what people at school think about me because I know the truth? What if I was honest with Jonah and let him make his own choices and stopped feeling so goddamn ashamed? What if I dealt with what I've got?"
So my review? This book is a look into depression and bipolar disorder. Its a great way to get that conversation going. I especially liked the restaurant, how it transformed with the help of so many people over the course of the book, and how Jonah saw his dad there at the restaurant at every move. It's like the restaurant and the characters who worked on it were all going through this big transformation - each one getting better and better.
I'd recommend this book to students in 8th grade and up.