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Mystic Summer: A Novel by Hannah McKinnon
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Mystic Summer: A Novel

by Hannah McKinnon

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I received this book from Jennifer Tropea O'Regan (Confessions of a Bookaholic).

Maggie Griffin is a teacher at a private school. She has a wonderful, committed boyfriend; a close relationship with her family and friends, including her best friend Erika who is getting married this summer. She should be happy but she's feeling like there's something missing or something more out there for her. When she's let go from her job she decides to spend some time in her hometown of Mystic to give herself a chance to think. While there she runs into an old boyfriend.

This was a terrific beach read, light an easy. That's not to say that the story doesn't have depth, Ms. McKinnon does a good job of building the characters so they are people you care about but knows how to pace through the tough times in the characters' lives so that you are not caught too long in a moment of sadness (who wants to be bawling on the beach?) ( )
  mmoj | Mar 2, 2017 |
When she's blindsided by a trio of seemingly unconnected events—her best friend Erika's summer wedding, a heartbreaking potential layoff, and a chance run-in with an ex-boyfriend, Cam—Maggie Griffin has no idea that she's just embarked on a summer that will change her life and cause her to question everything she holds dear.

A devoted Boston resident, she makes the decision to return to her hometown of Mystic for the summer while she figures her life out, and that's when things start to fall apart... and together.

Personally I wasn't convinced by Maggie's relationship with her boyfriend, Evan. It seemed like a prop to make her relationship with Cam more complicated, but overall it seemed very cliché (and in the end, pretty obvious who she would choose). On the other end of the spectrum, her relationship with Cam is much more realistic with more depth, and I loved the complex feelings that arose from her struggle to come to terms with possibly still being in love with her first love.

Reminiscent of the Hamptons, Mystic resides on the sleepy Connecticut coast which makes for a rich summer backdrop with plenty of nostalgia and plenty of heart. I love the evocative descriptions of Maggie's childhood, glimpses into her friendships and family life. It made her seem like such a real, flawed person. She's an easy main character to sympathize with, although at times I felt she sounds slightly standoffish in the way she looks down on people. She tends to isolate herself and make others feel bad for her for it; she is a self-proclaimed outsider, being the last of her friends group to be married, and more disappointingly, with no actual plans to anytime soon.

Hannah McKinnon, however, is no amateur at characterization. Most of Maggie's shortcomings seem intentional, and the other characters such as Cam, Erika, and her family members, are all so well developed, almost painfully so. I can't get enough of McKinnon's writing style either—the perfect mix of breezy and sophisticated, yet also modern and trendy, setting an appropriate foundation for the book.

Mystic Summer is not necessarily a romance story, but more a journey of self-discovery that women's fiction lovers will rejoice in. It is the story of the fresh-faced Maggie's dilemma as she is faced with a choice that could lead to two very separate paths.

Pros: Beautifully written, with wonderful attention to literary detail // I'm a sucker for the "past lovers reunite" trope // Cam's background and his new start in Mystic is intriguing, and definitely my favorite plot point // Perfect beach reading—easy and uncomplicated // Light and airy tone gives it an apt summer vibe, although it's introspective and profound where it needs to be

Cons: I grew tired of Maggie's narration pretty quickly; wish we could have gotten other perspectives, like from Cam, Erika, or even Jane (her older sister) // The side plot with Evan, Maggie's current boyfriend, is a bit exasperating—the romance with Cam could have easily been a better and more realistic story without a current (and utterly forgettable) boyfriend in the way

Verdict: Imagine yachts, the seaside, and salty air—Mystic Summer perfectly embodies the warm-weather beach read, telling the story of a very ordinary girl, faced with a very extraordinary decision to make: hold tight to the life she's worked so hard to build, or let go and allow room for something better. Hannah McKinnon's gorgeous literary flow pairs well with this wistful New England backdrop to create a warmhearted and thoughtful novel about settling down, the keeping of friends, and self-knowledge.

Rating: 8 out of 10 hearts (4 stars): An engaging read that will be worth your while; highly recommended.

Source: Complimentary copy provided by tour publicist via publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, TLC Book Tours and Atria Books!). ( )
  stephanieloves | Jul 11, 2016 |
Maggie Griffin seems to have the perfect life - she has a good teaching job at a private school in Boston, even if some of the parents can be a little trying sometimes. She has a loving boyfriend who wants to move in with her. Her best friend is getting married and Maggie is co-maid of honor. She even has a supportive family back in her hometown of Mystic, Connecticut. But when things start to unravel in Boston, Maggie finds herself back in Mystic. She tells herself it's just because her best friend, Erika, is getting married there, but once Maggie arrives back home, she isn't sure she wants to leave.

This book started out a bit slowly, but it quickly grew on me. Maggie is a slightly frustrating character at times, but she's also endearing and sweet. She's still finding herself, so you have to cut her a little slack. It happens to us all as we near thirty, right? The novel is certainly a bit predictable, but Maggie's character, as well as some of the supporting characters -- mainly her high school boyfriend Cameron -- keep it from being too silly and saccharine. It's not a literary masterpiece, but it's a fun, quick read: perfect to toss into a beach bag for the summer.

I received a copy of this novel from Netgalley (thank you!); it is available everywhere on 6/7/2016. ( )
  justacatandabook | May 23, 2016 |
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