March 19, 2014

You Can Always Change the End

Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

Release Date: January 21, 2014
Publisher: Macmillan | St. Martin's Press
Pages: 296 pages
Source & Format: Bought; Hardcover
Amazon | Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads)
The first time Eby Pim saw Lost Lake, it was on a picture postcard. Just an old photo and a few words on a small square of heavy stock, but when she saw it, she knew she was seeing her future.

That was half a life ago. Now Lost Lake is about to slip into Eby's past. Her husband George is long passed. Most of her demanding extended family are gone. All that's left is a once-charming collection of lakeside cabins succumbing to the Southern Georgia heat and damp, and an assortment of faithful misfits drawn back to Lost Lake year after year by their own unspoken dreams and desires.

It's a lot, but not enough to keep Eby from relinquishing Lost Lake to a developer with cash in hand, and calling this her final summer at the lake. Until one last chance at family knocks on her door.

Lost Lake is where Kate Pheris spent her best summer at the age of twelve, before she learned of loneliness, and heartbreak, and loss. Now she's all too familiar with those things, but she knows about hope too, thanks to resilient daughter Devin, and her own willingness to start moving forward. Perhaps at Lost Lake her little girl can cling to her own childhood for just a little longer... and maybe Kate herself can rediscover something that slipped through her fingers so long ago.

One after another, people find their way to Lost Lake, looking for something that they weren't sure they needed in the first place: love, closure, a second chance, peace, a mystery solved, a heart mended. Can they find what they need before it's too late?

Thoughts on Lost Lake
Sarah Addison Allen's books are like the definition of comfort read for me. Her books are always different - it's not the same story over and over again - but they always feel familiar. I feel like I know what to expect when I dive into one of her stories.

Here are four things that are very characteristic of Allen's books:

1. Enchanting Story
There's something about her stories that always leaves me feeling so comforted, so happy, when I close that final page. Even when they deal with sadness or grief, there's this overwhelming undercurrent of hopefulness. What I really appreciate about Allen is that the plots of her books always seem very her, but that doesn't mean they are predictable.

Lost Lake deals with Kate, a widowed mother who has spent the last year in a fog of grief. She's barely able to stay afloat - let alone take care of her seven-year-old daughter, Devin. Going through the motions, Kate has let her mother-in-law take charge. And it takes just a moment for Kate to see that handing over the reins of her life to someone else isn't going to do her daughter any good. Finding a long-lost postcard from an old family member leads her to the lake cottage community in Suley, Georgia. It's a place she hasn't been for years, but the memory of the happy summer she spent there just beckons her back.

What happens next is enchanting! I won't spoil the plot, but I will say I really loved this story and its themes. Although the ending was a bit predictable, I didn't mind at all. I don't read these books to be shocked or surprised. These are the books I turn to when I want a bit of whimsy sprinkled in with the painful realities of life. For me, being able to guess where this book was headed didn't take away an ounce of my enjoyment of it. This book was more melancholy and a bit slower than her previous work, but I still adored it.

2. Lovely Writing
These books are technically magical realism, and I'm obsessed with the little hints of fantasy and magic sprinkled on her pages. The stories feel so whimsical because of it, and I always tell people that there is something about Allen's books that seems so lovely. I love the Dictionary.com definition of lovely: "having a beauty that appeals to the heart or mind as well as to the eye." It works for perfectly for these stories!

The writing itself is something to be admired. I don't know how to describe it, but it's my favorite thing about reading Allen's books. I think it partly has to do with the infusion of magic into her stories because it adds this dash of the unexpected. As odd as it may sound, there is something about Allen's writing that fills me with what I can only describe as childlike wonder. In her pages, I start to believe the impossible.

Also, I love books that are really quotable (the reason I almost always include a quote in my reviews), and Lost Lake definitely qualifies. There were so many phrases and lines that I wanted to remember!

3. Charming Setting
One of my favorite things about Allen's books are the Southern elements. Although there are magical parts to all of her stories, the settings still feel so realistic and real. I've noted before in books set in the South that I hate when its culture is portrayed as stereotypical or cliche. The South certainly has aspects that make it unique, but I hate when it seems obvious that an author isn't writing from personal knowledge or experience.

Thankfully, it's evident that Allen knows the world she's depicting in her books. It's recognizable! She captures certain things about Southern charm that leave me just delighted while I'm reading her books. Lost Lake is set in Suley, Georgia, which is a fictional city in my home state. And while I know this place doesn't exist, it definitely feels like it could!

4. Colorful Characters
Finally, the characters! Lost Lake had a large cast of characters who were important to the story. Compared to her previous books, there may not have been as much depth to the characters because of the sheer number of them… but it really didn't bother me. Even though you only briefly get to know some of the characters, I thought they were all distinguishable from one another. They had distinct personalities, and I was never confused about who they were while I was reading.

One thing I love about Allen's characters is that you may only barely get to know them, and yet they feel as though they could star in their own book if Allen ever chose to flesh them out more. They all have their own history that you may not learn in the book, but you are still able to see hints of it throughout. They are so quirky and colorful, but it's not the kind of quirky where a character is just defined by one random trait.

In short, I think it's pretty easy to see that I highly recommend Lost Lake - as well as all of Sarah Addison Allen's previous books. I found this one completely charming, and it was the perfect pick-me-up in the middle of a winter that feels like it's never going to end.

So Quotable
"After you finish a book, the story still goes on in your mind. You can never change the beginning. But you can always change the end."

"If we measured life in the things that almost happened, we wouldn't get anywhere."

4 comments:

  1. I love her work so. I must read this this summer.

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    1. YOU MUST! This one was soooo good and would be perfect for summer!

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  2. I have never read a book by Sarah Addison Allen, but I have had more than one recommended to me. The Lost Lake sounds like a lovely read, and I really like the quotes you included!

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    Replies
    1. Oh Alexa, I second that recommendation! I really love her books :)

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