The Boys Next Door by Jennifer Echols
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I really enjoyed this sweet summer book. The protagonist, Lori, could not possibly have been any more charming - in some ways this reminded me of a Georgia Nicolson book, between her colorful way of expressing herself, and her ability to get herself into major drama/crazy situations with her seemingly plausible but ultimately doomed relationship schemes. The setting is great, and the whole wakeboarding element brings in an interesting and believable basis for the characters to interact and have a history that has its own problems and promises. The basic idea is pretty similar to The Summer I Turned Pretty, but think a souffle version rather than a three layer devils food cake with fudge icing. Jennifer Echols gets into the story and gets out without a hyperabundance of soul searching and pscycho-drama. That's not to say that the characters aren't fleshed out - she does a great job of creating voices and personalities for all of them, including the minor characters (even the parents! Thanks, JE). I guess the fact that I preferred this to JE's later, more serious efforts, reveals more about my tastes than about the quality of the books. This was a frothy frappucino, the others more like a bold sumatra (or something, getting lost in my analogies, here). Anyhoo, def will be checking out her other Simon Pulse contributions, these to me are the perfect mix of bitter and sweet, spunky and thoughtful, light and shadow. Well done, Jennifer Echols!
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