Sarah Williams is going to spend the summer at her grandmother’s cottage but it will be different this year. Her grandmother has recently passed away. She is excited to see her next door neighbor/best friend Jeff, and hopefully her crush, Jeff’s older brother Scott. Jeff also has a friend from school, Hugo, staying with them for the summer. Hugo shows an interest in Sarah but is he just a player looking for a summer fling? Scott warns her about Hugo, but is he just looking out for his little brother’s best friend? Or is he interested in her? This is a nice young adult romance which you will very much enjoy.
After the death of her beloved grandmother, Sarah Williams, an 18-year-old aspiring writer and recent high school graduate, goes to her grandma’s cottage on Pine Lake. Sarah spent many happy childhood years in their cozy cabin nestled in the ancient pine trees, but she is plagued by her lifelong crush on Scott Roberts, her summer neighbour. They have a long history of summers together. Tired of her unrequited love, Sarah bravely pursues the gorgeous Swiss exchange student who is staying with the Roberts family for the summer.
Sarah’s summer begins to unravel when her family is rocked by a scandalous secret. Before the dust begins to settle, an unexpected tragedy sends Sarah into a tailspin. In her despair, she pushes everyone she loves away, even Scott. In order to find the path to healing and love, Sarah must rely on her grandmother’s lessons from the past.
16+ due to adult situations and sexuality
The campfire burned brightly as Sarah and Mabel arrived at the Roberts’ cottage. Sarah was surprised to see how many people the guys had invited over and only recognized a few summer kids from the cottages around the lake.
The others must be townies.
Big red Adirondack chairs sat empty around the campfire. Most of the guests were gathered around the keg and the makeshift food table that the guys had set up. Sarah was impressed with their spread—veggie trays with spicy hummus, charcuterie boards decorated with cheese, meat, crackers, olives, fancy mustard, and pickled carrots. Overhead, pretty strings of twinkle lights hung across the trees and illuminated the outdoor space. Fireflies flashed in the forest, like tiny magicians that appeared and disappeared in the blink of an eye.
“You made it!” Jeff called out to them. He left the group that was gathered around the keg and welcomed Sarah and Mabel with a warm kiss on the cheek. “Let me get you a drink.”
“I can get one myself, thanks,” said Mabel. She smiled at Jeff and squeezed Sarah’s hand before she walked toward the group of people gathered at the keg.
“Coke for me, please,” said Sarah.
Jeff sat down in one of the big Adirondack chairs and reached into a cooler beside him. Sarah sat down across from him and graciously accepted a dripping ice-cold can of Coca-Cola. She took a small sip of the sweet bubbly drink.
“I’ve missed you,” she said. “Tell me everything. Did you meet anyone special at school this year?”
“Between my courses and hockey, I didn’t really have time for a girlfriend. I mean, I did have some fun.” He winked.
“Of course, you did,” she laughed.
“You’re going to love going away to school. I heard Concordia’s writing program is one of the best in the country. Congratulations.”
“To be honest, I’m a little nervous.”
Jeff reached into the cooler and grabbed a brown bottle of Labatt Blue. “I get it. When my parents dropped me off at university last fall, it felt like they had thrown me into the deep end of a pool and told me to learn how to swim. It’s the unknown that gets you. Trust me, Sarah, university is a pretty great place.”
Sarah looked into Jeff’s friendly blue eyes and smiled. He always knew the right thing to say. They spent the next hour catching up and feeding the fire. The dry logs crackled and hissed, releasing their intoxicating sweet aroma in the smoke. A couple of new guests arrived at the bonfire, and Jeff got up to greet them. Sarah kept watch over the fire and scanned the party, looking for Scott. Mabel was still at the keg with two red cups in hand, but Scott was nowhere to be seen. She took another sip of Coke and looked into the pine grove that separated their cottages. She could make out the remnants of the fort they had built when they were kids.
“Help me with this dead branch,” Jeff had said to Sarah one summer afternoon when she was ten.
“What are we going to do with it?”
“We’re going to build a lean-to shelter.”
Jeff always had the best ideas. They had worked together all summer on their top-secret fort. They gathered fallen branches from the forest and cleared the debris at the base of an old pine tree. Jeff and Sarah leaned the large sticks all around the tree at a 45-degree angle until they had built a robust circular wall with an opening for a door. Next, they gathered small twigs, fallen leaves, and moss to pack into the cracks. Mabel and Scott would help them from time to time, but Sarah and Jeff built most of the fort on their own. It became their sacred place.
After showing his new guests how to pour the perfect cup of beer from the keg, Jeff returned to the campfire.
“Do you remember the treasure maps we used to draw in our fort?” Sarah asked.
Jeff looked into the forest and smiled. “Hell, yeah, I do. We hid Happy Meal toys all over this place.”
They looked at each other and burst into laughter. They laughed so hard tears streamed down their cheeks.
“Do you remember how we used to set up booby traps?” she said.
Sarah and Jeff would dig shallow holes near the entrance of their fort and cover them with sticks and leaves. If someone stepped in one, it alerted them that an uninvited guest had been in their fort.
Scott stepped into the firelight, beer in hand. “I almost sprained my ankle in one of your death traps.”
Sarah wiped away her tears with the back of her hand, careful not to smudge her mascara. “Hi, Scott.” She smiled as she stood up to greet him. He enveloped her in a big bear hug. She nestled her face into his neck and breathed in his scent. He smelled clean, like crisp, fresh sheets.
“Look at you,” he said as he placed his hands on her shoulders. “You’re all grown up.”
I enjoyed this book so much. The writing is really good and it’s just a great story from start to finish. I would recommend to all!
This summer at her grandmother's cottage will be very different for Sarah Williams. Her grandma will not be there. Her father won't be joining them until late in the summer. Her mother is still grieving the loss of her mother. Mabel, Sarah's sister is recovering from a break up. The Pine Lake cottage is filled with memories of summers with her Grandma and wisdom passed down from her to Sarah. Sarah has had a crush on her best friend's brother Scott for as long as she can remember. The Roberts brothers have been a part of her summers too. Will this be the year she acts on her feelings toward Scott? This is a very well-written coming of age novel about that last summer after high school graduation and before college. The adult decisions that face Sarah and the wisdom of her grandmother to guide her.
A wonderful story for the author’s first published novel. A great dock read for teens. A good story that tackles big themes. A tale of summertime at the cottage, young love, heart break, workplace sexual harassment, divorce, and dying all told through the eyes of eighteen year old, Sarah. Sarah is sweet and hardworking - in secret love, working on her writing, lifeguarding to save money, and hoping to get into writing school in the fall when her life gets turned upside down. She weathers the ups and downs with the support of her mother, her sister, and good friends. She is fiercely independent and has big dreams for herself. Not too graphic - just enough sizzle to tantalize. If you are lucky enough to spend summers at a cottage, you will totally relate to this book - lifelong summer friends, lake antics, adventures in nature, lazing about in the sun just because. And my favourite line: “I can paddle my own damn canoe.” Congratulations to Alyssa Della Palme on an excellent debut novel!!
Summer at Pine Lake by Alyssa Delle Palme is a good, and enjoyable teen young adult dating romance read. The story has a great entertaining world building story line that beautifully written read. The characters are great, and they have great chemistry. This story is a very entertaining heartfelt nostalgic romance read. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.