By: Erin McCahan
Published Year: 2017
Publisher: Dial Books
Summary (Provided by Goodreads): It’s the summer after his senior year, and Briggs Henry is out the door. He’s leaving behind his ex-girlfriend and his parents’ money troubles for Lake Michigan and its miles of sandy beaches, working a summer job as a personal assistant, and living in a gorgeous Victorian on the shore. It’s the kind of house Briggs plans to buy his parents one day when he’s a multi-millionaire. But then he gets there. And his eighty-four-year-old boss tells him to put on a suit for her funeral.
So begins a summer of social gaffes, stomach cramps, fraught beach volleyball games, moonlit epiphanies, and a drawer full of funeral programs. Add to this Abigail, the mystifying girl next door on whom Briggs’s charms just won’t work, and “the lake effect” is taking on a whole new meaning.
Being a Chicagoan and having gone to school and vacationed in Michigan, the name Lake Effect jumped out to me as a summer read immediately. The cover screams summer and the lake and that is everything that I grew up with and wanting over the summer. Pretty much any time there is a book that takes place in or around areas I have lived it adds to my interest in reading it.
What I thought
Briggs is in the summer after his senior year before going off to University of Michigan for college. He gets a job as live in help for an elderly woman (in her mid-80s) in South Haven for the summer. When he was a child, his family used to summer in South Haven but they stopped when he was 9 and he misses being by the lake, so he is looking forward to this the most when he gets the job.
I enjoyed the character of Briggs even though he seemed a bit unrealistic. In high school he was Class President, All-Star baseball player, number 9 in his class, worked part-time, and has a way with the older women (in a not creepy way). He was a bit too perfect for me and I think this may have been because the author was female, writing a male character. It just seemed like a bit of that authentic 18 year old boy was missing.
Mrs. B, the woman that Briggs is working for was my absolute favorite. I would have been happy if the whole book had revolved around Briggs and Mrs. B and him learning from her and learning about who he was. The part that threw me a little bit was the attempt at friendships in South Haven. It seemed like parts of relationships started to develop but then something little would stop them. For example, a lot of them refused to be nice to Briggs because he was a “tourist”. Which I get to a point, but still seemed a bit immature for 18-19 year olds who have either gone to college or are going to college.
The other issue I had with this book was there was a lot going on. There were a lot of small story lines that were brought in to create drama and tension. But then there was a larger out of the blue conflict thrown in. I don’t think that it was necessary to the story and I would have preferred it without the final drama. It just came off as a bit formulaic. As if the author was following the summer beach read storyline and realized that she needed something big if she wanted her book to fall into this category. I just would’ve enjoyed it a lot more if it had stayed simple and a little more typical without the giant conflict.