Title: Local Girl Swept Away by Ellen Wittlinger
Publisher: Merit Press
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Length: 270 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss
They are four best friends who’ve shared joy and secrets, love and memories, and since the beginning, Lorna was the one who held them all together. Then, the unthinkable happens. During a storm, Lorna is swept out to sea, leaving the three survivors with nothing to cling to except grief and questions. How did this happen? Why was Lorna in such danger, and was she alone? When her body is never found, the mystery deepens. Did Lorna really die? Or has she made a crazy bid for freedom? Inevitably, the dynamic of the four friends’ everyday life is changed forever. But the pain and confusion go deepest for Jackie, who must face her feelings of unrequited love for Lorna’s boyfriend as well as try to put to rest her own questions about Lorna’s presumed death. Does one of the boys in their inner circle know more than he’s letting on? Will Lorna’s fate ever be discovered? And how will Jackie become her own person in the wake of a wound that may never close? In this beautifully written, intense novel, one girl has to travel through loss and disillusionment to make sense of her own future.
Local Girl Swept Away by Ellen Wittlinger is a captivating young adult novel about a group of teenagers trying to cope with the loss of a beloved friend.
Best friends since the fourth grade, Jackie Silva, Lucas Baskin-Snow and Finn Rudolph are devastated when Lorna Trovato is swept out to sea during a storm. In the aftermath of her disappearance, Jackie and Finn console one another while Lucas avoids them then leaves town for the summer. Although deeply saddened by Lorna’s death, Jackie handles her grief much better than Finn and she renews her friendship with another childhood friend, Char. As Lorna’s boyfriend, Finn deeply mourns her loss until Jackie forces him to stop wallowing in grief. Completely perplexed by Lucas’s reaction to Lorna’s death, Jackie continues trying to get in touch with him but she eventually gives up when her texts and e-mails go unanswered. Just as the three friends are moving on with their lives, Jackie makes a shocking discovery which forces her re-evaluate everything she thinks she knows about Lorna.
Jackie spends the most of her free time with Finn until an awkward kiss drives a wedge between them. She then throws herself into her job at a local art gallery run by Finn’s mother, Elsie. Closely working with thirty year old Cooper Thorne, she falls under his spell as he encourages her to pursue her dream of becoming an artist. She also welcomes his wildly inappropriate romantic interest despite the huge age difference between them.
Jackie is relieved when her relationship with Finn resumes but they do not see eye to eye when Lucas returns home and reveals some very troubling information about Lorna. After his shocking revelation, she begins to view Lorna a little more realistically but she still idolizes her vibrant, spirited friend. Jackie remains troubled about the circumstances surrounding Lorna’s disappearance and she continues trying to make sense of what happened that fateful night. A stunning discovery confuses her but her loyalty to her friend puts her in the uncomfortable position of keeping secrets from the people she cares about. Jackie becomes even more conflicted when new information comes to light but will her conscience allow her to maintain her silence?
Local Girl Swept Away is an engaging young adult novel with a fast-paced and moving storyline. The characters are interesting with realistic strengths and weaknesses and their reactions to the various situations ring true. Ellen Wittlinger’s vibrant descriptions of Provincetown make it very easy to visualize the picturesque seaside town. While some aspects of the plot are a little predictable, readers will be pleasantly surprised by the novel’s very unexpected conclusion.