A 2015 Whitney Award Nominee! A powerful story of loss, second chances, and first love, reminiscent of Sarah Dessen and John Green. When Oakley Nelson loses her older brother, Lucas, to cancer, she thinks she’ll never recover. Between her parents’ arguing and the battle she’s fighting with depression, she feels nothing inside but a hollow emptiness. When Mom suggests they spend a few months in California with Aunt Jo, Oakley isn’t sure a change of scenery will alter anything, but she’s willing to give it a try. In California, Oakley discovers a sort of safety and freedom in Aunt Jo’s beach house. Once they’re settled, Mom hands her a notebook full of letters addressed to her—from Lucas. As Oakley reads one each day, she realizes how much he loved her, and each letter challenges her to be better and to continue to enjoy her life. He wants her to move on. If only it were that easy. But then a surfer named Carson comes into her life, and Oakley is blindsided. He makes her feel again. As she lets him in, she is surprised by how much she cares for him, and that’s when things get complicated. How can she fall in love and be happy when Lucas never got the chance to do those very same things? With her brother’s dying words as guidance, Oakley knows she must learn to listen and trust again. But will she have to leave the past behind to find happiness in the future? Sky Pony Press, with our Good Books, Racehorse and Arcade imprints, is proud to publish a broad range of books for young readers—picture books for small children, chapter books, books for middle grade readers, and novels for young adults. Our list includes bestsellers for children who love to play Minecraft; stories told with LEGO bricks; books that teach lessons about tolerance, patience, and the environment, and much more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller or a national bestseller, we are committed to books on subjects that are sometimes overlooked and to authors whose work might not otherwise find a home.
When Oakley’s mom takes her to California so that they can both spend some time with Oakley’s aunt, an opportunity to regroup presents itself, but Oakley is trying to figure out how to manage life without Lucas. She needs to figure out how to continue to live—and live well—without betraying his memory. Carson, a handsome local who wants to be more than friends, is everything that Oakley needs to start to heal from her brother’s death, but she can’t find a way through the natural depression that has settled in.
LOVE, LUCAS gets its name from the series of letters that Lucas has written to his sister from his hospital bed. Oakley vows to read one entry each day, and each one speaks to her and her current situation in an uncanny way. As Oakley tries to live out Lucas’s directives, she starts to find a way to move forward, but she needs to accept that happiness isn’t a betrayal.
LOVE, LUCAS is a sweet and sad book about family, grieving, loss, and love, and it is definitely a recommended book for its intended audience. Oakley (and Lucas) have a lot of lessons to share, and although the adults in the novel are a bit shallow, Oakley is a vibrant character, and one with whom readers will relate.
My thanks to the publisher and YA Books Central for a copy of the book in exchange for my unbiased review.
A strong look at the grieving process