Title:Leaving Green Island
Author: Em Barrett
Published: July 4, 2012
Goodreads Summary: More than simply a modern love story, Leaving Green Island is a poignant yet lighthearted tale of friendship, family and the search for a place to belong in the complex world of today’s twenty-something women.
With a new job at a prestigious Chicago law firm and an engagement ring on her finger, everything seems to be falling into place for Brecken Pereira these days. However, all this perfection quickly unravels when Reed Whalen, Brecken’s first love, unexpectedly resurfaces. The complicated history of the enigmatic Reed unfolds as the two summers that Brecken spent as a teenager on posh, exclusive Green Island in northern Michigan are interspersed with her relatable and humorous modern day trials and tribulations.
After Reed’s reappearance, Brecken is torn between her longing for the past and the life she has carefully built for herself since Reed vanished years before. Her true-to-life and complex relationships with her two best friends provide the backbone that supports Brecken, both as the life she knows quickly dissolves around her and as she struggles to pick up the pieces.
This unputdownable novel is certain to pull on the heartstrings of anyone who ever had a first love.
** “If you enjoy Emily Giffin or Jennifer Weiner, then add Em Barrett to your list!” ~The Indie Bookshelf, September 1, 2012 **
Purchase here: Amazon
- Christina found this title to be an enjoyable enough read and places it on her third shelf.
**NOTE:** An eBook of this novel was provided by the author for review purposes, but that did not influence this review in any way.
The Lowdown: Brecken Pereira seems to have her life pretty figured out at this point for being in her mid-twenties. As a new legal assistant in a prestigious law firm in Chicago, Breck finds herself newly engaged to a charming British guy who is currently in his medical residency, housed with two awesome roommates– one being her lifelong friend since childhood and the other her college comrade– who make her days better, and lastly she plays in a band for fun. But no sooner does life seem all and well does Brecken find it knocked on its ass and upside down, and it’s all because of one person. Reed Whalen- first love, long disappeared, but newly resurfaced.
Told in Brecken’s point-of-view, we flash between her present life and memories of the summers of her junior and senior year spent on a secluded, upscale island in northern Michigan known as Green Island with her best friend, Lizzy. It was during these two visits that she met Reed, and on her last year at the island, they fell headfirst into a fairy-tale summer love. While back in the present, the reader is left wondering where this love went astray, and why, supposedly after all this time, is Reed finally making a stand and hoping to run interference on Brecken’s happily ever after with her current fiancé, Will.
My Thoughts: When looking at the summary, this story seemed like it at all the aspects of what I look for in a great novel; first (summer) love, strong friendships and familial bonds, unrequited love, lovers reunited… I mean, the list goes on. Sadly for me, a few of these points missed their mark, and I feel like a vast majority had to do with my focus being pulled in a billion different directions with this story.
First, I waffled over my feelings about the friendships and the family situation. This was probably one of the better strengths in this book because Brecken is surrounded by so many vivacious and likable secondary characters, but even it became distracting at a certain point. With her friends and bandmates having their own side projects and relationships, often times I felt like their lives played more of a central role than Brecken’s in this novel, which was supposed to be her story. So while I appreciated the depth that Ms. Barrett gave these characters, I also feel like they kept taking up more of my attention than they should have.
My second complaint would be (what I felt to be) the unnecessary drama at Brecken’s workplace, which was dealing with a sleazeball boss and his unwanted advances which ultimately lead to a sexual harassment situation. For it to take up the bulk of the story– Brecken was alway about work: long hours at the office, dealing with work issues away from the office, trying to advance in her career while dodging her disgusting boss– everything kind of fizzled out and then with how it ended, I was kind of left feeling like, What exactly was the point in dealing with all of that?
Lastly, I wanted more of the summertime flashbacks and her days spend as a young girl in love with Reed. For this period of her life to have such a huge impact on shaping her future, I don’t feel like we had enough time to get to know Reed at this stage; therefore, it was hard for me to fall in love with him when he suddenly popped back into her life all those years later. The beginning of it was there, I even swooned a little; however, I feel like it could have been fleshed out so much more. In my opinion, had the author focused more of her attention on this period in their relationship, giving us those details of their long days together instead of just telling us they spent them together, I feel like this could have been an entirely different book, and better for it.
Verdict: All in all, it was a good story and I really liked the epilogue. I’m not big on stories of infidelity or where there’s drama just for the sake of it, but the summer affection shared between Breck and Reed more than made up for it for those little pet peeves. I only wish we would have gotten to see a little more of their time together because I believe that would’ve made Leaving Green Island worth way more of my time. That being said, I’m not disappointed in the slightest with the story I got instead.