Title: Chasing Lucky (review copy)
Author: Jenn Bennett
Genre/Themes: Contemporary YA, Summery Romance, Family “Curse”, Secrets, Family Dynamics
Blurb from Goodreads
A swoon-worthy story of first love, making mistakes and finding out who you are, from the author of Night Owls.
Budding photographer Josie Saint-Martin has spent half her life with her single mother, moving from city to city. When they return to her historical New England hometown to run the family bookstore, Josie knows it’s not forever, so there’s no reason to change her modus operandi—keeping to herself, dreaming of the day she can leave.
But after a disastrous summer party, a poorly executed act of revenge lands her in big-time trouble. As in, jail…alongside the last person with whom she’d want to share a mugshot: the son of the boat mechanic across the street, Lucky Karras. Outsider, rebel…and her former childhood best friend.
Josie and Lucky become the talk of their coastal small town. But during a summer of secrets, everything changes, and the easy friendship they once shared grows into something deeper and more complicated. Can Josie and Lucky swim past obstacles that come with rough waters, or will they both go down together?
I invariably enjoy Jenn Bennett’s contemporary YA novels. And this latest release might be my favourite of them because this story really captured my heart.
The book follows the character of seventeen year old Josie Saint-Martin who returns to her childhood hometown of Beauty after a number of years living from place to place with her mum Winona.
But the reasons for their hasty departure years ago haven’t gone away and somehow Josie has to figure out how to get through these next few months in Beauty before she can once and for all leave her family troubles behind and escape to LA to be with her father.
However, no matter how hard Josie tries to keep a low profile her family name (and the associated familial curse) follows her around and lands Josie in hot water… and very hot water it is indeed as it comes in the form of town bad boy Lucky Karras who also just happens to be Josie’s childhood best friend…
This book was sooooo good!
A perfect summery read complete with small harbour town with a wealthy elite versus the rest of us mere mortals, childhood besties becoming more, mysterious family drama and strained family dynamics… just a perfect recipe for a really entertaining and engrossing contemporary read!
I really liked the character of Josie. She was so interesting to read about. I loved how she could be really smart and sassy, but then really awkward and clueless. Her character arc was truly compelling as it was fascinating to see how a lifetime of familial secrets had influenced her life choices and I really found the story surrounding the invisible protective wall that Josie put up around herself to be quite moving. I think the personal journey that she undertakes in this novel is one that will resonate with a lot of readers who feel similarly without stable family ties.
And I absolutely adored the character of Lucky. He had just the right amount of edge and bravado but then this sweet core that just gave the love story between Josie and Lucky all the swoony feels. Although Lucky had a backstory of getting injured in a fire as a child that I feel was a bit too underdeveloped. I would like to have been given a bit more insight into his feelings… But then conversely I understand why so much of Lucky was closed off from the reader because this is a book about breaking down the invisible walls we put up around ourselves and it was vital to the climax of the story that there still be mystery surrounding all of the characters that aren’t Josie.
Evie was a fantastic side character in this book that again I would have loved to have had more page time with. In fact I want so much more of this character that I would love a companion novel from her perspective. Evie is Josie’s nineteen year old cousin who is in a very on again/off again style toxic relationship with one of the town’s rich elite. What I loved about her is that she was this super smart character but yet she kept going back to her jerk boyfriend. It added an interesting counterpoint to the romantic relationship that was blossoming between Josie and Lucky but oh, I just wanted more! Her story was so heart wrenching and I think an important one to tell because it shows how easy it can be to become ensnared by a toxic relationship. So I wanted to get things from Evie’s perspective. Wanted to know more about the beginning of that toxic relationship. And I want to know more about the direction that her life goes in during the epilogue.
And while we are at it I would happily read a book from Winona’s (Josie’s mum) perspective too. Honestly the female characters in this book are fascinating. We don’t get to hear much about Winona’s backstory until the latter part of the book… but oooof… when we get to it it’s really interesting. There’s a whole lot of drama that went down when Winona was Josie’s age and I would love to have seen that expanded upon a little bit more. Especially the relationship dynamics between Winona and her mother (Josie’s grandmother) because it would have been better to understand a bit more about why these two characters were at loggerheads for so many years.
Overall this was a super enjoyable read. I laughed, I cried, I swooned. There were a few moments towards the end of the novel that felt a little too melodramatic and stretched out the story a tad too much for my personal taste, but this is a minor quibble as I didn’t feel that my enjoyment was any way tempered due to such.
“Chasing Lucky” was a pretty perfect summery romance and I would love to see Bennett return to these characters again in a companion novel from someone else’s perspective (preferably Evie).
Recommended to all fans of YA contemporary.
*An e-copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
Publishing 11th June 2020, Simon & Schuster Children’s UK