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I Belong

Review: Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Second StarTitle: Second Star

AuthorAlyssa B. Sheinmel

Genre: YA Contemporary

Series: N/A

Publication Date: May 13, 2014

Format: Hardcover, 256 Pages

ISBN-100374382670 (MacTeen)

ISBN-13: 978-0374382674 (MacTeen)

Reviewed byKaitlin


A twisty story about love, loss, and lies, this contemporary oceanside adventure is tinged with a touch of dark magic as it follows seventeen-year-old Wendy Darling on a search for her missing surfer brothers. Wendy’s journey leads her to a mysterious hidden cove inhabited by a tribe of young renegade surfers, most of them runaways like her brothers. Wendy is instantly drawn to the cove’s charismatic leader, Pete, but her search also points her toward Pete’s nemesis, the drug-dealing Jas. Enigmatic, dangerous, and handsome, Jas pulls Wendy in even as she’s falling hard for Pete. A radical reinvention of a classic, Second Star is an irresistible summer romance about two young men who have yet to grow up–and the troubled beauty trapped between them.

Quick & Dirty: This book, despite a somewhat ridiculous romance, was beautifully written and a good read.

Opening Sentence: I can smell the bonfire before I even get out of the car.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Wendy’s siblings are missing. They found their broken surfboards but not their bodies, or any other evidence. Most people assume they are dead. But Wendy refuses to believe that. Her search to find the twins leads her to Kensington, a gorgeous beach occupied by homeless kids that live in abandoned houses and get by with stolen food. She learns to surf with the gorgeous Pete and starts to feel something for Jax the drug dealer. The rest of her family think she’s insane for her searches, but Wendy is determined to realize the truth, one way or another, and if that means asking help of the Kensington crew, she’s not afraid to go to certain lengths to do so. A light and easy read!

Prior to reading Second Star, I hadn’t heard the best things. I knew that people had called it “laughable” and although the cover was deceivingly gorgeous, many hadn’t found it a good read. That made me wary when I started reading Second Star. However much I disliked some aspects of the plot, however, I found myself enjoying the book for its gorgeous writing style and beautiful ending. Maybe I liked it more because I was reading it when I was in Hawaii — after all, many of the scenes were at the beach and the descriptions of pale sand and blue skies fit my scenery. It was a pleasant environment to settle down with a simple book. I’m tempted to buy it so I can reread and display it proudly on my bookshelf. I mean, look at the purples and the silhouettes!

Second Star is a retelling of Peter Pan. The characters, or at least most of them, have names remarkably similar to those of the classic fairytale. Take our main character Wendy, for instance. And Pete, the homeless surfer she meets who teaches her how to “fly” through the waves. Jas is Captain Hook, which is confusing to me, because Jax sounds nothing like Hook — you infer that he’s the Neverland’s villain because he’s the drug dealer. Jas sells “pixie dust” which is a highly addictive substance that you swallow tablets of, and makes you increasingly weak the more you eat them. Her brothers, Michael and John, are obviously Wendy’s brothers from London. I thought the similarities between the story and the novel were enjoyable without being distracting. And the ending — uch! My favorite part by far, but so torturous! I understand why the author ended the story that way and how it related to Neverland’s but it didn’t make it any less hard for me to swallow. I want a sequel, even if those chances are doubtful.

Wendy is shy, without a somewhat flat personality, but her love for the water and how she described surfing made me like her as a character. I mean, the whole love triangle between Peter Pan and Captain Hook was kind of ridiculous. Why was she falling for the drug dealer? I mean, that was just a lack of common sense. Weirdly enough, however, I wasn’t repulsed by Jas and he grew on me so by the time I ended the book I kind of missed him. It was funny how his personality and his profession didn’t really fit. I didn’t like Pete as much. The second time they met — the second time — they kissed. I was not feeling that relationship. Luckily enough by the end of the book she has only one of them that she’s fallen for. Pete was probably better for her than the drug dealer, at least. There’s that.

Altogether, even though sometimes I’d laugh at the sheer ridiculousness of the plotline, I actually liked this book. The writing was simple but beautiful. The side characters were interesting, Beth as Tinkerbell and a few others as the Lost Boys. I wish they hadn’t made stealing out to be okay, as they did, but I guess the Kensington boys needed some way to make ends met. And I did appreciate the descriptions and imagery of surfing, and how it related to flying. Though it was obviously a retelling, the story stood on its own, and I liked how it managed to have its own unique aspects as well as those of the original story. I thought this book was a nice read that I would recommend to people who want a calm, pretty book that they can read on a warm summer’s day.

Notable Scene:

The reeds begin to thin out, and the sand beneath my feet becomes sugar-white and flour-soft, and slightly wet, as if it was covered in water not long ago. I can hear the ocean, but the waves sound different here. Even though I can’t see the water, somehow I can tell: these waves are perfect.

The path opens up onto a small but pristine triangle of beach, bordered by the reeds on one side, rocky, sloping cliffs on another, and then the sparkling water. The sun reflects the ocean like a million fingerprints.

I look around, searching for the boy with the freckles on his face and the sand on his back.


FTC Advisory: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)/Macmillan provided me with a copy of Second Star.  No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.


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