Author: Libby Hubscher
Audiobook Length: 10 hours 55 minutes
Marin Cole has never:
Seen the ocean
Climbed a mountain
Taken a risk on love
….But if her sister’s plan works, she just might do all three.
Ever since her journalist mother died on assignment, Marin has played it safe, refusing to set foot outside the state of Tennessee. Her wild-child younger sister, Sadie, has trotted the globe as a photographer, living off of art and adrenaline.
When Sadie returns from a tough assignment abroad and looks a little worse for wear, Marin reluctantly agrees to a sisters’ spa weekend on the tropical island of Saba. But her lifelong fear of travel is affirmed when Sadie misses the flight, Marin’s luggage gets mixed up with another passenger’s, and an episode of turbulence sends her hurtling into the lap of Lucas Tsai, the handsome stranger who stole her sister’s seat.
For the first time in a long time, Marin has to step outside of her comfort zone as she explores the island with Lucas and learns what she’s been missing out on. With each breathtaking new experience, Marin gets closer to her real self, the man she’s falling for, and the heart-wrenching truth about why she’s there in the first place.
I am not sure when I first noticed it, but it seems that tons of books nowadays have very cute covers that look like it will be a light-hearted rom-com and then the book itself is full of a lot more emotion. The cover at least somewhat gives this novel away as the quote lists the romance third on the main topics to enjoy. This helped set the stage for me before I began listening to this story, as I did the audiobook version. Instead of following the cover and marketing genre blindly, I followed the cover’s quote and the last line in the synopsis that said it would be heart-wrenching. This novel has many light-hearted and fun moments, but it will also take you through some more heart-breaking times.
After losing her mother when she was 17-year-old, Marin Cole became the official caretaker of her younger sister, Sadie (15). As their mother was always off on assignments on adventures around the world, Marin was used to taking care of free-spirited Sadie, but she felt the burden more after their mother’s death. She gave up on her journalism dream due to her mother’s death and became on the border obsessed with taking care of her sister, even though her sister was off around the globe for her job. Marin would stay at home as a homebody worrying about her sister and not living her own life. It was depressing to read about as it tugged at the reader’s heartstrings about how fixated she became with her sister that she could not even go have fun herself. I wish this was explored further as it truly seemed that Marin would not even go bowling or any other smaller fun activity because she was too worried about her sister, who was not even in the same country.
When Sadie returns from her latest trip to China, she promises a fun sister trip with Marin and plans the whole thing. At the airport, Sadie does not show up and Marin is left to travel to the Dutch Virgin Island of Saba on her own. Saba is one island that, as a reader, I wanted to visit even before I read this book, but I want to visit it even more after reading about this slice of paradise. Also, I truly want to fly to this airport with the world’s shortest runway! (This is a true fact about the real island.) The main story follows Marin’s adventure on the island after being abandoned by her sister on the trip. This is a dual point of view novel, though, so the reader does experience Sadie’s side of things and the truth about everything is revealed.
I am on the fence about how I feel about Marin. I have a hard time that is naturally gifted at every single thing they try and is just a fear of trying holding them back. She was apparently a brilliant writer at a young age where everyone loved everything she wrote and it was only the loss of her mother that held her back. On the island, she tries scuba diving and karaoke and she was perfect at both. While I loved her emotional journey, I just wish that she just tried and faced her fears, but still had a side of realism where she may be good at it, but was not perfect. It still would have the same impact, as perfection was not the main point of the story, but it just would have been more relatable.
Overall, I am on the fence about this story as the emotions and the characters were great, but a lot of the events were not relatable as there was very little realism in it. For me, those unrealistic events took away from the realism that came from the emotional journey. [If you read the novel, you most likely could guess the ones I am referring to right now.] While I love the escapism in novels, some try to become more relatable and this book seemed to present itself this way. Instead, there are great lessons, fantastic heart-breaking and heart-warming moments, but the events themselves separate this novel from attempting to act as it could potentially take place in reality. This novel did make me appreciate my own siblings as our communication is far more open than Sadie and Marin’s and, even if one of us wanted the other to get out more, we would never approach it in the same way. I loved Marin’s growth though and it is the standout in this story. As this is a contemporary romance novel, there are love subplots, but it is not the main takeaways from the reading experience. Instead, they were the perfect supporting themes. All in all, this was an excellent story about self-discovery and I would recommend others to give this a try! (Just be prepared for more emotion than the cover and general synopsis suggests.)