Author: Natalie Whipple
Published: Published February 5th 2015 by Hot Key Books
Number of pages: 322 pages, Paperback
Mika Arlington was supposed to spend the summer after her junior year shadowing her marine biologist parents at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, but when her estranged grandmother randomly shows up on the doorstep one day, those plans are derailed. Because Grandma Betty isn’t here to play nice—she is cranky, intolerant of Mika’s mixed-race-couple parents, and oh yeah she has Alzheimer’s and is out of money. While Mika’s family would rather not deal with Grandma Betty, they don’t have much choice. And despite Mika’s protests, she is roped into caring for a person that seems impossible to have compassion for. And if that wasn’t hard enough, Mika must train the new guy at her pet shop job who wants to be anywhere else, and help a friend through her own family crisis. Something’s gotta a give, but whichever ball Mika drops means losing someone she loves. Not exactly a recipe for Best Summer Ever—or is it?
Natalie whipple managed to totally reel me in… 😉
The main character is Mika. She is your average teenager which is what makes this book so relatable. She doesn’t want any of the responsibility she is given unfairly, which is understandable because no one wants their life turned upside down in a day. She can be a bit selfish at times and slightly vain but who isn’t ? Mika although she is seemingly ordinary is also unique in her own ways. Mika’s obsession is fish – gold fish and she often speaks about the legend of the koi ( I’m telling the truth, no lie ). She spends her Saturday’s sculpting with her friends at the beach. She also wants to be a marine scientist ( I freaking loved that ! You go Mika).
Natalie jumps straight into the story and each sentence left me hooked. Okay I promise that’s my last fish pun.
This book may seem like just another summer love story but it’s much more than that.What makes this book stand out is the unique characters. The book has a bunch of different ethnic groups thrown in there. We see it all in this book, Mika is half Japanese. The book is built around the topic of racism. How it still exists today as it did before. We also learn about hidden racism and it is really eye opening. Natalie also touches on the topic of Alzheimer’s disease. We see how Betty ( Mika’s grandma ) struggles with it. Apart from the notebook I’ve not come across any book that really captures it spot on.
Okay, I know what you probably really want to hear about is the romance.The romance is definitely squeal inducing. The love interest is introduced very quickly and eureka you guessed it ! It’s new-guy Dylan (refer to blurb). The pace of it is steady enough that it isn’t unbelievable but fast enough to keep you on your toes. Although the romance was very cliche and it did get a bit tiring close to the end I was able to endure it.
Another big theme in this book is friendship. I loved that Mika found a balance ( well she did eventually ) between a serious relationship, friendship and family . Let’s not forget about her job at the pet store. Wow she really deserves a pat on the back. She managed to hold on to everything and didn’t have to sacrifice love for friendship or friendship for love. Well done Mika.
I do wish the book didn’t focus on the little things but the other more important aspects of the book like racism and Alzheimer’s. Towards the end it just felt a little too petty. I didn’t like the ending much, nothing seemed resolved. I just felt like there was more to it than that.
This is definitely one of my favourite contemporary books. I love Natalie’s writing style. The book is set in beautiful Monterey, California, and the surrounding areas it felt like I was sitting on the beach with a bucket and spade sculpting with Mika and soaking up the sun. Plus there are princess bride references ( What more could you want from a book).
Basically you need to get your fins on this book. Okay now that was the last pun.