Desert Isle Keeper
Jenn Bennett has become the creative vanguard of the YA genre. Chasing Lucky is another jewel in her crown; beautifully written, a touch heartbreaking, a lot beautiful, it’s a gorgeous piece of work
Josie Saint-Martin, an amateur photographer with a free-spirited, irresponsible (and free loving – the town has nicknamed her ‘Wild’ for her endless flirtation and affairs) mom, Winona, return to their hometown of Beauty, Rhode Island to run the family bookstore for a year. Winona and Josie’s grandma Deirdre have never gotten along, and when Josie was twelve, a fight resulted in Winona taking Josie away from Beauty and refusing to return for five years. Siren’s Book Nook however, is bigger than Winona and Deirdre, and Deirdre needs help with it so she can experience her own taste of freedom. While Winona plots a Florida move for them both, Josie is planning to leave Beauty and her dysfunctional relationship with her space-cadet mother as soon as she can for Los Angeles and life with her estranged father. Her dad is a fellow photographer, who has promised her an apprenticeship in a year’s time.
That’s when Lucky Karras walks back through her emotional door.
Lucky was Josie’s best friend growing up – actually her only friend – before Josie’s mom pulled her out of Rhode Island. Josie never got to say goodbye to him in the wake of a devastating fire that left him emotionally scarred. She’s drawn to him and to his orbit, in spite of the fact that he’s transformed himself into a bad-boy rebel-type in her absence.
But when they attend a pool party together where a nude photograph of Josie’s mom is circulated by Adrian, the ex-boyfriend of Josie’s cousin, Evie, Josie embarks on a mission of revenge. She throws a rock and it ends up sailing through the window belonging to said ex – which lands her in legal trouble. But Lucky immediately steps up, lies, and takes the blame for the rock throwing – resulting in a felony charge. Josie is now frantic to free him from taking the rap for her – and hey, why would he do such a thing, anyway? She becomes determined to find out why he’s made such a huge sacrifice in her name and looks for a way to get him out of harm’s way.
In getting close to Lucky, Josie’s perspective begins to shift. Could this be love, and Beauty her true home?
Chasing Lucky is another of Bennett’s beautiful YA novels about a dysfunctional family and a strong girl who finds romance and self-love and learns a whole lot about her seemingly-wayward mother as time passes by.
As always, the author crafts characters readers can care about, and Lucky and Josie are no exceptions. Imperfect, flawed kids, they’re easy to root for in every single way. It’s impossible not to come away from a Bennett book feeling love for her protagonists.
It’s also impossible to come away from the book without loving the characters in it. You will love Winona, flawed and loving as she is, and you will love Evie, the goth girl that she is. Even Lucky’s boatbuilding family is well-drawn. You will end up loving how Bennett captures New England, and specifically, the culture in a small Rhode Island town. She crafts such realistic, such understandable tales that you can only nod your head in agreement and sympathy at her protagonists’ antics and feelings and growth and emotions.
Every note in the Lucky/Josie romance is struck beautifully. Again, it’s impossible not to love them in their earnestness. It’s impossible not to adore them in their awkwardness and weakness and righteousness and strength.
It’s easy to live in Bennett’s books, and this one was no exception; I carried it around throughout the day as I read it. A you-won’t-put-it-down extravaganza of beauty, Chasing Lucky is just that good, so incredibly well-written, that my own words can’t really do it justice. Buy it and trust me, you won’t regret it.
Note: this story contains mention of statutory rape of a minor by an adult character
Buy it at: Amazon, Audible, or your local independent bookstore
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Lisa Fernandes is a writer, reviewer and recapper who lives somewhere on the East Coast. Formerly employed by Firefox.org and Next Projection, she also currently contributes to Women Write About Comics. Read her blog at http://thatbouviergirl.blogspot.com/, follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/thatbouviergirl or contribute to her Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/MissyvsEvilDead or her Ko-Fi at ko-fi.com/missmelbouvier