Susan Wiggs has done it again. She has given us a well-written story of young people who make mistakes, suffer loss, and manage to end up hopeful in spite of it all.
Those who have been reading The Lakeshore Chronicles already know the backstory of these characters, but anyone who has not read the other books will find plenty of well-executed flashbacks to fill them in. Have a box of tissues ready, there is plenty in here that may have you crying. Wiggs is so skilled that none of it seems like emotional manipulation, just realism.
I liked that the action is allowed to unfold over the course of several years. It is a treat to see Daisy growing through her experiences. The tendency of many romance authors to be influenced by television and having the events compressed into a compact package happening over a few days or hours is deplorable. I prefer Wiggs' style.
It is truly hard to talk about the plot without spoilers, so I'll focus on the protagonists. Daisy Bellamy is a teen mother from an affluent family. I admire her spirit, the way she goes on in spite of having her life plans derailed more than once. I also like that she isn't perfect. Logan, the father of her son Charlie, is a recovering alcoholic from an affluent family who turned his life around in order to be a good father. Wiggs doesn't give us a whole lot from his point of view, but his actions have a major influence on the plot. Julian is the impoverished young man she fell in love with before messing up her life so badly. We see how he copes with hopelessness, we see him triumph, we see him suffer. I found the happy ending a bit unrealistic, I felt that in real life these characters would have drifted apart into separate life paths after the trails they endured, rather than coming back together.
One of the themes of this tale is that one should ignore the "shoulds" or "ought to's" of others' expectations and one's own, and focus on the heart. Another theme is survival, learning how to live again after the unthinkable happens. Another is the importance of family, in both positive and negative ways.
A subplot involves the feelings Zach has for Sonnet; I hope they are featured in the next book.
All in all, this is one of the best romances out there.