Tuesday, November 4, 2014


Review of Thirty Sunsets by Christine Hurley Desriso

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To Forrest Shephard, getting away to the family's beach house with her parents and her brother, Brian, is the best part of every summer. Until this year, when her mother invites Brian's obnoxious girlfriend, Olivia, to join them. Suddenly, Forrest's relaxing vacation becomes a mission to verify the reality of Olivia's rumored eating disorder. But the truth behind Olivia's finicky eating isn't at all what Forrest expected. And over the next thirty days, Forrest's world is turned upside down as her family's darkest secrets begin to come to light. (Taken from Goodreads)

Forrest Shepherd is convinced she’s right. About what’s best for her brother and his horrible girlfriend, Olivia. About her mother’s need for control. Most of all, she thinks she’s right about Scott, the first cute guy to hit on her. But on the Shepherds’ annual summer vacation, Forrest discovers that her safe world of family and friends is riddled with deception. Her brother, her mother, Olivia, Scott . . . she really doesn’t know them at all, and Forrest is left wondering what it means for the most important relationships in her life to be built on lies. Thirty Sunsets is a story about secrets and personal trauma that shake a family to its core . . . and the healing that arises when hard truths emerge. (Given by the Author)

Stars Given:


Overall View:
Not only does this book have a pretty cover and a title that relates to the book (bonus!), but it also send a very important message to its readers.  The theme of the book seemed to be "don't judge a book by its cover".  Olivia served as a great example, seeing how she comes from a broken family, and she holds the stereotypes of a lead cheerleader.  Instead of being a bossy, and cocky lead cheerleader, she was portrayed as a girl who not only cared about her boyfriend Scott, but cared for others, such as Forrest as well.  The mother also played a very important part in sending out the message to the readers.  At a glance, she seems like the typical control freak who doesn't allow her children outside of her sight, but once you look into her past, you begin to understand her story and her reasoning for her over protective nature.

Not only did this book teach readers a lesson, but the added humor also balanced out with the heavy subjects that were being discussed in this book.  The writing flowed very well, allowing me to visualize the scene clearly.  I felt as if I were right there at the beach, watching Forrest as she takes off into a different adventure everyday.  Not only did this book flow well, but the plot was consistent, which allowed me to follow up on the story easily.  There were no awkward sentences or grammar mistakes present, and the author uses very mature words that helped me with visualizing each scene.

Although I did enjoy this book, I did give it four stars for a few reasons.  I am more inclined to romantic stories, but certain parts of this book was too predictable or unrealistic. The boy who raped Forrest's mom seemed unrealistic (a flat character) to me.  After finding out that both the mother and daughter were raped by cute (at least that's what it seemed like judging from the description) boys, it just seemed too unrealistic.  Sure, cute boys may rape cute girls, but what are the chances of both Shepherds being raped/close to being raped by cute boys?  Another thing that really bothered me was Olivia.  I want to know more about her past, her family, and maybe even her ex-boyfriends.  To me, she was a very interesting character, a character I wanted to discover about, but in the end, I got nothing.  She was not as developed as the other characters, but I really wanted more on her part.

Overall, I found this book quite enjoyable and would recommend it to others.

Forrest Shepherd -
Description of Character: The 16-year-old narrator of the book, Forrest Shepherd, has perfected masking her insecurities with above-it-all snark. She’s pretty and would love a boyfriend, but she’s too smart and mature for the guys in her school and too naïve to understand that they’ll catch up with her eventually. Her naivete leads to the book’s denouement – a devastating blow that forces her to tap into her deepest reserves of strength as she moves to the next phase of her life.

Review of Character:Forrest appealed to me in the beginning because of her smarts and love for words (described as "word freak").  Throughout the story, she began to get irritating because of her stubborn beliefs about Scott.  Although she was advised against the idea of spending time Scott, her inflexible personality stopped her from taking the advice.  Her character was really developed and it allowed me to learn about her and her family more.

Brian Shepherd -
Description of Character: Brian Shepherd, Forrest’s 18-year-old brother, is cute, popular, smart . . . and in love. His infatuation with cheerleader Olivia has derailed all his plans, particularly studying premed at Vanderbilt. He’s kind and steady, but he makes it clear that if he has to choose between Olivia and his family, he’s choosing Olivia.

Review of Character: Brian was my favourite character out of the whole book.  The fact that he was over protective with Forrest, although they were not blood related shows that he loves her unconditionally.  Brian was a very constricted character who was caged by the belief of his mother, in addition, the way he was conceived also restricted him.  He was the most sincere character out of the rest who wanted nothing more than to live up to everyone's expectations.  He cared about the people he loved, including Olivia.  Brian was a developed character, unlike Olivia, and learning about him was quite enjoyable, yet heart breaking at times.

Olivia -
Description of Character: 18-year-old Olivia is unwelcome in the Shepherd household by everyone but Brian. The family resents the pretty cheerleader for seemingly derailing his college plans. They also worry about Olivia’s dysfunctional upbringing. But although she strikes them as superficial, Olivia soon reveals depths of wisdom and emotion that reveal both her psychic scars and her fierce insistence on creating a better life for herself.

Review of Character: Although Olivia appeared to be the typical popular, disrepectful lead cheerleader, she was actually really considerate, helping Forrest with her problems, allowing them to bond.  She was not as developed as other characters, which bothered me a little.  She felt like the type of character I would love no matter what her past contained.  Although she wasn't as developed, I felt like she played a very important role in this book.  Without her, many of the events or family bonding would not have happened.  In my opinion, she was a supporting character that meant to be one of the leading characters.  If a book came out talking about Olivia's past before meeting Brian and after meeting Brian came out, I would definitely pick it up.

*Supporting characters not listed