Cassandra (“Cass”) is 17, and is spending the summer before her senior year with her family in a beach house in Crest Harbor, Massachusetts. She is bored, resentful, and rebellious, and goes looking for trouble with the other bored rich kids around the area. Then one night on their private beach during a full moon, she meets Lawrence, who has just turned 18 and is also broody and unhappy. His father is insisting he go to Harvard in the fall and become a lawyer, in a life of “carefully planned obedience,” but Lawrence wants to write poetry. With Cass, Lawrence finds a kindred spirit, and they both fall in love with each other. But they have a bit of a problem. Lawrence lives in 1925, and Cass lives one hundred years later, in 2015. They cannot leave the beach and be together.
Cass goes to the library to see if she can find out more about who Lawrence and his family were, and discovers to her horror that Lawrence is in danger. She is determined to help him; but is it possible to change history? And if she does, can they be together?
Discussion: I liked this book a lot more after I finished it; the ending is very good. But I had some issues with the plot leading up to the dénouement.
First, Cass doesn’t seem very bright (no surprise since she doesn’t consider that reading books might be an option to relieve boredom). She finds out early on that her meetings with Lawrence have in fact changed history, but then forgets it or discounts it.
Cass gets bent out of shape when she learns about Fay, a girl Lawrence dated before he even met Cass (and for that matter, one hundred years earlier). And yet, at the end, Cass has no reaction to related information she finds out about Lawrence.
Some of the main characters go through whopping personality changes that defy belief, the biggest being Lawrence’s beloved Uncle Ned, but also including Fay, the girl Lawrence had been dating before Cass, and even Cass’s mother. Most of the side characters are more caricatures that characters.
Some of the writing isn’t so great either. The metaphors can be a stretch: “Time howls on, like the wind.” Cass keeps telling Lawrence that everything “sucks” – one would think he might need clarification. She also talks about pictures on her phone, yet another thing you would think would cause him to wonder. (Although they spend many hours talking, she decides it would be wrong to tell him too much about the future.) And in the very beginning, Cass describes two good-looking male friends in Crest Harbor by saying: “Both have the classic all-American look – tall, sparkling blue eyes, and a crop of blond hair that’s been gelled to scientific levels of perfection.” All American? I found that offensive.
Evaluation: In spite of some quibbles I had with some of the writing and some of the plot elements, this is an appealing romance with some added suspense and an unexpected ending.
Published by Sourcebooks, 2015