June 10, 2009

Review: Beach Trip

Beach Trip
by Cathy Holton

"In youth we learn; in age we understand." --Marie Von Ebner-Eschenbach
(I love this quote from the title page)

They became friends in college over 20 years ago. Now they are reuniting for a special week long beach trip. Each of these four unlikely friends has been carrying the burden of a secret from the others all these long years. Now it is time to air old grievances and shatter preconceived notions.

Does that sound just a little familiar? I can't think of any titles but there are at least a couple of movies out there about four childhood friends, all stereo-typical personality types, that get back together as adults to extinguish their prejudices about each other but ultimately prove their devotion. It's a chick thing to fantasize about lasting bonds with a small but close knit group of friends, each with their own way of seeing the world but always there for each other no matter what. It's a story that is told with some frequency and, unfortunately, without a lot of changes from one story to the next. I'm not saying this is a bad thing necessarily, just that it is not very original.

The negative:
The characters are the same as they always are in these types of stories. There is the mousy one, the goody-goody, the loudmouth and the reasonable one. There is always a tug-of-war over a boy between two of them. For me, the sameness was boring. The author sets up the stereo-types and then slowly breaks them down. It's common. And I had a hard time distinguishing each character from the others, not because they were not distinct but because the chapters kept changing prospectives. I kept a list nearby to note names, backgrounds and personal traits in order to keep up with what was going on with whom.

Another little qualm I had was the structure. The story went back and forth from past to present but often there were flashbacks within the future sections. It was confusing and made the formal divisions unnecessary. I know that it is the thing right now to switch back and forth from past to present within a story, to build suspense and to reveal the story slowly, but when it is too much it is too much. But that's a very minor complaint I could make about a lot of the modern literature I read. When done well it adds drama. If not, it is disorienting.

The positive:
There were some twists and turns I did not see coming. I was waiting for something predictable and was caught off guard by something else in its place. I'm not easily surprised (the downfall of being someone who loves to solve a mystery) so surprising elements in a novel are always a plus for me. It brought my interest up and kept me reading.

Overall, it was a pleasant read. If you're into chick-lit and you need a light poolside read then Beach Trip will fit the bill.

One last note. The author was very sweet and helpful when my copy of the book didn't show up when expected. She had a second copy in the mail immediately. Thank you Cathy. Find out more about Cathy Holton at her website and check out her blog, Surly Wench Journal. And thank you to TLC Book Tours for including me in the itinerary. I always enjoy being a part of your book tours. My computer is being finicky so for additional tour stops with lots of positive reviews check out the Beach Trip page at TLC.

Buy this book at Amazon.


bermudaonion said...

I'm touring this at the end of the month. Maybe I should go to the beach to read it.

LisaMM said...

I really like your header!! So summery!

I'm sorry you didn't love Beach Trip but I'm glad you were able to find some positive things to highlight. I just finished it myself and really liked it (to each his/her own, of course). I live near the beach and was lucky enough to be able to spend half a day on the sand finishing it!

You're right that the formula felt familiar (4 lifelong friends, each with dif. personality traits) but for me, that was ok. I didn't have any trouble keeping them straight. I was able to quickly picture the women and remember who they were.

Thanks for all the time and effort you put into reading and reviewing the book.. it's greatly appreciated.

Zibilee said...

I have stayed away from this book for many of the reasons that you were dissatisfied with it. It sounded a lot like The Necklace, which I didn't really love. I am glad that some of the plot twists surprised you though, it's always fun when that happens.