Featured Review: Spells for Lost Things (Jenna Evans Welch)

 

About This Book:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Love & Gelato comes a poignant and romantic novel about two teens trying to find their place in the world after being unceremoniously dragged to Salem, Massachusetts, for the summer.

Willow has never felt like she belonged anywhere and is convinced that the only way to find a true home is to travel the world. But her plans to act on her dream are put on hold when her aloof and often absent mother drags Willow to Salem, Massachusetts, to wrap up the affairs of an aunt Willow didn’t even know she had. An aunt who may or may not have been a witch.

There, she meets Mason, a loner who’s always felt out of place and has been in and out of foster homes his entire life. He’s been classified as one of the runaways, constantly searching for ways to make it back to his mom; even if she can’t take care of him, it’s his job to try and take care of her. Isn’t it?

Naturally pulled to one another, Willow and Mason set out across Salem to discover the secret past of Willow’s mother, her aunt, and the ambiguous history of her family. During all of this, the two can’t help but act on their natural connection. But with the amount of baggage between them—and Willow’s growing conviction her family might be cursed—can they manage to hold onto each other?

 

 

*Review Contributed by Olivia Farr, Staff Reviewer*

SPELLS FOR LOST THINGS is a lovely YA contemporary about finding a place to belong and family. Willow has always felt a fire to travel and see the world, but her mother has other ideas. Since the divorce and moving across the country, her mother’s business has flourished, but Willow feels the distance between them feeling impossible to cross. When the sister Willow never even knew her mother had dies, her mother takes her to Salem, Massachusetts to deal with the estate. Suddenly, Willow is realizing how very little she knew about her mother and the family from which she came.

Mason has been in foster care for a long time, but he wants to be with his mother. However, his mother is an addict and none of the rehab programs seemed to be working. A couple years earlier was the last time he saw her, and now, he has no idea where she is or if she is even alive. One of her childhood friends, Emma, and Emma’s husband, Simon have become foster parents solely to foster him. Once he arrives, he is overwhelmed by their 4 daughters and the way his life has again shifted.

When Mason and Willow meet, it seems like a sign from the universe for both of them. As they each work on solving the mysteries of their families, they find kinship and romance in each other.

What I loved: This was a really lovely story that tackles some heavy and important themes around family and complicated relationships in them. Mason has had some trouble in foster care, and he really just wants to be with his mother – something that seems impossible as he has no idea where she is. As he enters Emma and Simon’s house, he finds a new kind of family, but it is hard to let himself feel a part of it. Willow has been challenged by her relationship with her mother, and now she is learning new things about who her mother was and the family she never knew she had. Salem is a chance to find her place in the world, much like the potential of the family for Mason.

Both Willow and Mason are also dealing with mysteries. About halfway through the book, Willow finds a scavenger hunt left by her aunt to learn more about her family’s witchy past and the secrets that have been buried. This allows the two to really bond, while Willow learns more about the way her family and her mother are and have been, with the allure of magic and spells woven throughout.

Willow and Mason are both heartfelt and genuine characters, who are so easy to cheer for. They are each struggling, but really doing their best amidst some complex situations. Their growth and relationship really make the story, as it is quite character driven. The romance is slow-building, and the way that they get to know each other makes it feel quite powerful in the end. Both of them have much to learn, and this summer in Salem is the place where their journeys really begin, together.

Final verdict: Ultimately, SPELLS FOR LOST THINGS is a heartfelt and compelling YA contemporary about complicated family, the good of humanity, and falling in love with a bit of witchy flair. Highly recommend picking up this sweet read.

 

 

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