By: Amy Willoughby-Burle
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Publication Date: April 2018
Reviewed by: Diana Buss
Nina’s life is a mess. She’s in the middle of a divorce, her teenage daughter seems to hate her, her past with her mother has always been somewhat rocky, her brother is estranged, her sister is still dealing with the effects of an accident from her childhood and her father has recently passed away, bringing them all together at last. What could possibly go wrong? Just when she thinks it can’t get any worse, she fears her job as a food photographer is on the line. Her most recent assignment, "32 Ways to Make Lemonade," certainly doesn’t make her sour mood any sweeter. It’s going to take an awful lot to help Nina keep it together, especially when her entire world is falling apart.
When Nina begins seeing Oliver, a caretaker for her late father, she begins to think everything will be ok. He’s sweet, calming, and so much younger than she is. It’s hard for her to get past the age difference, however, he’s the calming presence she needs in her life these days, especially since her husband Jack wants to get back together with her. To make matters worse, her daughter Cassie doesn’t understand what’s going on and is taking everything out on Nina, right down to staying with her dad out of spite. Overall, Nina’s life is currently all about relationships. Her relationship with her mother is strained as she struggles to stay away from the alcohol that caused their childhood to be so rough, her sister is counting on her to come to her aid when the holes in her memory become too much and her brother needs her now more than ever as he realizes he has a family of his own. With all the family drama, secrets, and new beginnings, will they be able to come together without the glue that once held them all together?
The Lemonade Year is the perfect read for the spring and summer seasons. Not only is Nina entirely relatable, but it’s very easy to understand how she’s feeling and why. This doesn’t just stop at Nina, however. You can feel the pain of her mother as she fights to keep memories of her past behind while moving forward after the death of her husband, the fear of Lola and the suspense of wondering when she will remember her accident and the inner turmoil of her brother, Ray, who blames and punishes himself for his past and for his part in Lola’s accident. Nina’s relationship with each of her siblings, her mother, father, husband Jack, daughter, and Oliver are expertly portrayed and never confusing. This helps the story develop and makes you want to learn more about each individual's viewpoint of the situation. While we get a peek into that, I would love to see short stories or gain more insight into the lives of the rest of the characters. I believe another book, perhaps detailing Lola’s journey on her trip, her brother’s new relationship and family and Nina’s endeavors to fix her relationship with her husband and daughter would be just the cure for the sadness that follows when this book is over.
Quill says: The Lemonade Year is the perfect book to pick up and enjoy, then struggle to put down.