Every summer, Luanne Rice releases a PB book which usually has some connection to the previous summer's release. BEACH GIRLS is no exception, with references to Bay & Tara who first appeared in last year's PERFECT SUMMER (2003), and even a small reference to Mrs. Renwick, who first appeared in FIREFLY BEACH, then later in PERFECT SUMMER. The PB novels, which are released every summer, don't usually excite me as much or grab my attention the way that Luanne Rice's HC releases do each Jan/Feb. (I have to admit - I never even finished reading FIREFLY BEACH because I just couldn't get into it!). BEACH GIRLS was another story, however. This story seemed to follow the same pattern that Luanne Rice's HC books seem to go, with a heavier, emotionally charged story with several characters intertwined and connected by the heart. I was pleasantly surprised.
I have been reading Luanne Rice since a friend loaned me their copy of CLOUD NINE shortly after its original release. I have been hooked ever since, and have become quite the fan. The PB books which she releases in the summer always seem to be a fast paced, light-hearted read, meant to be read quickly, and then seem to be soon-forgotten. They aren't as emotionally charged as her HC books are, but BEACH GIRLS was different.
I don't think I would compare this book to the Ya-Ya books (as some have done here), although it does refer to the bonds between Best Friends. I do find similarities to Judy Blume's SUMMER SISTERS, Debbie Macomber's SHOP ON BLOSSOM STREET and BETWEEN FRIENDS, and Kristin Hannah's THINGS WE DO FOR LOVE. These are some of my favorite authors/books, and now BEACH GIRLS is right up there, earning a high rating and recommendation from me.
Anyone who enjoys a story about true friendship, and the love and bonds between family & friends, will thoroughly enjoy this book. It's all there - the three best friends who grew up spending summers together on the beach; a close brother/sister relationship which is put to the test when one of the siblings feels betrayed by the other; the tender and innocent child who brings them all together. It's all there for readers to enjoy, without being overly melodramatic.
Of course it's predictable. Luanne Rice has been writing women's fiction for more than 10 years now, and all of her stories carry the same themes and are meant to pull at the reader's heartstrings. With all the connections to previous novels, what does one expect? I don't think that Luanne Rice's summer PBs are the best novels to draw in new fans and attract readers - I think the HC books are much better at grabbing readers' attention and stopping their hearts. But BEACH GIRLS was different, and I think that someone who has never read a Luanne Rice novel before, would be easily enticed into picking up another one of her previous books - perhaps even reading PERFECT SUMMER, in order to get the background on Bay & Tara!! But if a new reader isn't interested in going backwards to the novels of the past, I think anyone who read BEACH GIRLS and Luanne Rice for the first time would make sure they pick up a copy of her next HC novel, which should be on bookstore shelves shortly after the New Year!! I know I'm looking forward to it, and can't wait to see what's in store! I'm also hoping that maybe next summer's PB novel will pick up where this one left off, because once you finish this book, you'll definitely be wanting to know what happened next!