The Lake Effect by Erin McCahan (391 pages)
Overview: Lake Michigan is beautiful. That's why the town of South Haven draws so many tourists, or in this case, seasonal workers. Briggs gets the chance to return to the lake for a summer to work for an old woman looking for live in summer help. Though the lake promises beautiful days and abundant fun, it also opens him up to many new worlds. That of his Serbian employer oozing with spunk, the unintentionally mysterious girl next door, Abigail, and the whole crew of townies who fill his afternoons with beach volleyball. The time away also offers a fresh prospective on the family he left behind and his future priorities. Though he knew about the weather, the Lake Effect was something much greater than he anticipated. Overall: 5
Characters: 5 Wow. So, I have to say that when the book started, I was fine with Briggs but nothing special. He was the kind of guy who came from a somewhat privileged background that was a machine towards wealth and notoriety. He had a million fake smiles to go with his feelings, and that's definitely a way people live their lives. Luckily, once he gets to the lake, those around him challenge his status quo and he becomes a totally new person. A real person.
Mrs. B and Abigail are the greatest contributors to it. Mrs. B is an old woman who knows she's old and accepts it with spunk and grace. She spends most of her summer going from funeral to funeral, collecting ideas for her own. Her blunt ideas on life start to weave into Brook's mind. Then the next door neighbor Abigail starts pushing his mind further. She's vague and full of questions that Briggs doesn't understand at first, but his fascination with her slowly begins to open his eyes to how she sees the world.
Plot: 5 This is a story about life and evolution and day after quiet day, but McCahan really understands how to keep it moving. This book is pretty significantly long, but I never felt like I was reading a long book because every page or two you get a new chapter. Constantly cutting the lens into Brigg's life around makes the benign moments of life a point of fascination.
Writing: 5 The writing in this books is phenomenal. All at once it is quiet and boomingly loud. Briggs evolves both in a giant flourish and slowly, conversation by conversation. She makes you love each and every character and you want to be their friends. Briggs learns how to feel, how to think, and how to want more out of life than what people tell you you should. And that is more beautiful than the beach where it all unfolds.