Saturday, July 2, 2016

8 Heart Review: Mystic Summer by Hannah McKinnon + Giveaway (US/Can only)

Mystic Summer
Hannah McKinnon

Page Count: 283

Release Date: June 7th, 2016
Publisher: Emily Bestler/Atria Books (Simon & Schuster)
Source: Complimentary copy provided by tour publicist via publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, TLC Book Tours and Atria Books!)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥
A chance run-in with a college boyfriend puts a young woman’s picture-perfect life in perspective in this warm-hearted and lyrical novel—from the author of The Lake Season.

Since finishing graduate school, Maggie Griffin has worked hard to build an enviable life in Boston. She’s an elementary school teacher in a tony Boston suburb, a devoted sister, and a loving aunt. With her childhood best friend’s wedding quickly approaching and her own relationship blossoming, this is the summer she has been waiting for.

But when Maggie’s career is suddenly in jeopardy, her life begins to unravel. Stricken, Maggie returns home to seaside Mystic, Connecticut, where she expects to find comfort in family and familiarity. Instead, she runs into Cameron Wilder, a young man from her past who has also returned home, and whose life has taken a turn that puts Maggie’s city struggles in harsh perspective. When tragedy strikes for Cameron, Maggie is faced with big decisions as she weighs what matters most and strives to stay true to the person she’s become.

Set against the gorgeous backdrop of a New England summer when past and present collide, Mystic Summer is a gorgeous novel about looking back, moving forward, and the beauty that blooms when fate intervenes.
It occurs to me that so far my summer consists of living everyone else's lives. My students' lives, my family's lives, and that of my best friend. And though I groan inwardly when I think of all these commitments I have to follow through on, I realize there's one thing bothering me most of all; beyond them, where are my own?

When she's blindsided by a trio of seemingly unconnected eventsher best friend Erika's summer wedding, a heartbreaking potential layoff, and a chance run-in with an ex-boyfriend, CamMaggie Griffin has no idea that she's just embarked on a summer that will change her life and cause her to question everything she holds dear.

A devoted Boston resident, she makes the decision to return to her hometown of Mystic for the summer while she figures her life out, and that's when things start to fall apart... and together. 

Personally I wasn't convinced by Maggie's relationship with her boyfriend, Evan. It seemed like a prop to make her relationship with Cam more complicated, but overall it seemed very cliché (and in the end, pretty obvious who she would choose). On the other end of the spectrum, her relationship with Cam is much more realistic with more depth, and I loved the complex feelings that arose from her struggle to come to terms with possibly still being in love with her first love.

Reminiscent of the Hamptons, Mystic resides on the sleepy Connecticut coast which makes for a rich summer backdrop with plenty of nostalgia and plenty of heart. I love the evocative descriptions of Maggie's childhood, glimpses into her friendships and family life. It made her seem like such a real, flawed person. She's an easy main character to sympathize with, although at times I felt she sounds slightly standoffish in the way she looks down on people. She tends to isolate herself and make others feel bad for her for it; she is a self-proclaimed outsider, being the last of her friends group to be married, and more disappointingly, with no actual plans to anytime soon.

Hannah McKinnon, however, is no amateur at characterization. Most of Maggie's shortcomings seem intentional, and the other characters such as Cam, Erika, and her family members, are all so well developed, almost painfully so. I can't get enough of McKinnon's writing style either—the perfect mix of breezy and sophisticated, yet also modern and trendy, setting an appropriate foundation for the book.

Mystic Summer is not necessarily a romance story, but more a journey of self-discovery that women's fiction lovers will rejoice in. It is the story of the fresh-faced Maggie's dilemma as she is faced with a choice that could lead to two very separate paths.

Pros


Beautifully written, with wonderful attention to literary detail // I'm a sucker for the "past lovers reunite" trope // Cam's background and his new start in Mystic is intriguing, and definitely my favorite plot point // Perfect beach reading—easy and uncomplicated // Light and airy tone gives it an apt summer vibe, although it's introspective and profound where it needs to be

Cons


I grew tired of Maggie's narration pretty quickly; wish we could have gotten other perspectives, like from Cam, Erika, or even Jane (her older sister) // The side plot with Evan, Maggie's current boyfriend, is a bit exasperating—the romance with Cam could have easily been a better and more realistic story without a current (and utterly forgettable) boyfriend in the way

Love


"Everyone ready?" Peyton asks. She ushers us out in her usual mother-hen fashion. Erika laughs at something Trent says and loops her arm through mine. We walk out as a noisy group of friends into the warm night along the pier, each one of us linked with one another. Like Mrs. Wilder said, there are stars in our eyes. And I can't help but wonder, why are we the lucky ones?
"Cam? It's me. Maggie."
There's a pause. I rush to fill the silence, suddenly feeling the need to explain myself. "Did I wake you?" I picture him glancing at the clock and a rush of embarrassment fills me. "I'm sorry to call so late. Look, why don't I call back in the morning?"
I'm about to hang up when Cam clears his throat. "Hang on a second."
So I do, my heart in my throat. I shouldn't have called. Not at this hour. Not at all.
"Griff." He's the only one who's ever called me that.
"Yeah?"
"I'd hoped it was you."

Verdict


Imagine yachts, the seaside, and salty air
Mystic Summer perfectly embodies the warm-weather beach read, telling the story of a very ordinary girl, faced with a very extraordinary decision to make:  hold tight to the life she's worked so hard to build, or let go and allow room for something better. Hannah McKinnon's gorgeous literary flow pairs well with this wistful New England backdrop to create a warmhearted and thoughtful novel about settling down, the keeping of friends, and self-knowledge Americanflag

8 hearts: An engaging read that will be worth your while; highly recommended (x)

Giveaway!


One of you lucky readers will get the chance to get your hands on this book yourself!! Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of Mystic Summer—yay!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me in the comments below:
What is a trait or behavior you look out for in others (whether in dating or making friends), that is an indicator that they are a good person?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Hannah and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

To me, the biggest one would be not going out of their way to put you down or make your life difficult, even if they don't agree with you. For instance if you're wrong about something, they don't argue with you or make you feel stupid over it, but rather gently point it out. Or if you have differing opinions on a controversial issue (like religion), they don't get personal over it and defensive, but rather are respectful enough to listen to your perspective.

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the tour publicist and publisher—a huge thank you to TLC Book Tours and Atria Books!
Giveaway ends July 16th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canada readers only—sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for the list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!