The Lifeguard by Deborah Blumenthal
Publisher: Whitman, Albert & Company
Upcoming Release Date: March 1, 2012
Format: eBook ARC from Netgalley
Why I read it: Looking for a nice, easy summer read.
Summary: Sirena’s parents ship her off to her aunt’s beach house in Rhode Island while they settle the details of their divorce in Texas. After Sirena literally runs into the gorgeous lifeguard, Pilot, she immediately feels a connection and can’t stop thinking about him. Soon her summer focus shifts from her new identity as the child of divorced parents to making Pilot notice her and a bunch of discoveries in between.
I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. But with The Lifeguard, I couldn’t help it. I was half-expecting a more grown-up, better developed version of Boy Crazy Stacey, one of my favorite Baby-sitter’s Club books. But instead I was launched into a story about infatuation, ghosts, separation, and healing. While there is nothing wrong with these subjects coming together to make a decent story, there was something very disjointed about The Lifeguard.
Most of my difficulty with the book was centered on Sirena. While I knew she was broken up about her parent’s relationship and missed her best friend who went off to camp without her, I never got a deep sense of who she was and what she was feeling beyond the obvious. It was frustrating when she fell for Pilot so fast. I understand attraction. Totally. He was hot. He was unattainable. She wanted him. But it went beyond that and I wasn’t sure why. (He hardly spoke. I didn’t learn a thing about him.) Sirena had so many unresolved issues and even though most of the book is inside her head (another thing I didn’t like; dialogue would have helped) I wasn’t sold on her growth as a character.
This was one of those books where I kept hoping things would fall into place if I just kept reading, but it never happened for me. While Blumenthal’s language was ethereal and at times very sensual, I always felt like I was on the cusp of something, never to obtain any sort of satisfaction (especially when it came to the end). In fact, one of the parts I loved about the book most were the letters between Sirena and her best friend. I think it would have been a great device for us to learn more about our main character, but they were few and far between.
I would be curious to hear the thoughts of others who decided to read The Lifeguard. It’s difficult for me to recommend because I’ve been reading so many other novels that tackle difficult issues (and unique twists) with much more clarity and planning. This book certainly had potential but it missed the mark with me. It wasn’t so much the writing but the structure of the book and the lack of backstory when it came to the main characters. That being said, if other factors in the book had been tightened up, maybe I would have bought the ghost story connection and the “healing” subplot. Instead, it all seemed like too much, too soon.