Tuesday Reviews Day: The Lake Effect, Erin McCahan

 

The Lake Effect Cover Art

The Lake Effect cover art

If you didn’t already know, my husband and I live in the Southern United States. It’s beautiful; lots of trees, a variety of landscapes (mountains, beach, etc., all within day-trip distance), a staggering amount of wildlife and next to no light pollution. Plus: it’s hot. Almost all the time. Except for the last month or two. It’s been unseasonably cold around here, and we even had a few snow flurries last week. So it seemed like the perfect time to go back a bit to one of my end-of-summer reads that never made it to the review page.

Let’s hope it knocks the chill off.

Briggs Henry needs a summer job. He finds one, working as a personal assistant to eighty-four-year old Mrs. Božić, a.k.a. Mrs. B. Briggs gets along quickly with the eccentric widow, but is thrown for a loop when she asks him to go with her to attend her funeral. As it turns out, Mrs. B’s favorite activity is crashing funerals; she says it helps her decide how she wants to organize her own funeral one day, but Briggs soon notices Mrs. B’s unique ability to console mourning families, even of people she doesn’t know.

But somehow Briggs manages to mess up the first few funerals they attend together, and he soon earns a bumbling reputation among his peers in the lakeshore community. They like him okay, but mostly they like to make fun of him; except Abigail. She lives next door to Mrs. B and there’s something about her Briggs just can’t ignore.

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The Lake Effect bills itself as a delightful beach read, and I couldn’t agree more, but in an endearing way rather than a disparaging one. It’s light and airy, but with characters you enjoy getting to know. The friendly chemistry between Mrs. B and Briggs is charming, with each of them lending their share of laugh-out-loud moments to the story. Girl-next-door Abigail is intelligent and doesn’t fall so easily for Briggs’ flashy smiles; she also has a chronic illness I felt was well-represented, based on my experiences with someone who has the same illness. It’s a cute teen summer romance, but told from the perspective of a boy, giving a refreshing feel to a sometimes tired trope.

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How I found it: PageHabit YA Box #2
Genre: Contemporary, Bildungsroman, Romance, Realism
Content warnings: None
Does it pass the Bechdel test? No
Is it a standalone? Yes
So what worked? Character development, genderbent perspective, humor, romance
What didn’t work? Honestly, I was really pleased with this book. I’m not sure there was anything I would have changed about it.

Overall: The Lake Effect is a cute, easy read that’s perfect for vacation (or making you wish you were on vacation). It’s a lighthearted romcom with great visibility for traditionally underrepresented character types (elderly women, chronically ill teens). I’d feel comfortable recommending this book to pretty much anyone, provided they’re comfortable reading a book that frequently deals with end-of-life issues. If you’re looking for a wholesome, happy escape read, this is the book for you.

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