SAVE WHAT’S LEFT
By: Elizabeth Castellano
Published: June 27, 2023
Novels with a beach setting? Yes! Novels with quirky characters? Yes! Novels that are repetitive and over-the-top with ridiculousness? I guess not. People magazine said this was one of the best books of the summer and I was thrilled to get an ebook for review. Kathleen, whose marriage ended abruptly and without any cause after thirty years, felt like someone I could like and empathize with. When her husband sets off for a cruise, she decides to leave their Kansas home and purchase a beach house sight unseen in the coastal town her best friend lives in. What could go wrong? Let’s just say just about everything.
“That’s the problem with a bad marriage. I don’t mean a bad marriage. I mean, a just-okay marriage – one that isn’t awful, but isn’t quite good either. It’s like a benign rib pain. It’s not lethal. It’s not causing excruciating pain. No one cares about it. You can still perform normal activities. It’s just a worrisome annoyance that eats away at you until one day it decides to leave.”
What Kathleen finds when she arrives at her new beach house is a mega-home being built right next door. Probably why the beach house was so cheap, huh? What entails over the next 200+ pages are lots of unbelievable mishaps, lots of ranting, council meetings, unanswered emails, and quite a bit of annoying behavior that became pretty uninteresting quite quickly. I’m usually game for some hilarity and ridiculousness, but this became too much. When she partners up with the cranky neighbor, you know nothing good can happen between the two of them. Did I agree with her frustrations? Of course! How frustrating to have this construction right next door, blocking your view of the beach, creating noise and mess instead of calm and beauty. But, just reading about it page after page started to make me angry and give me anxiety over something that wasn’t even real. The real lesson here is to NEVER buy a beach house over the phone or computer!
This is Castellano’s debut novel and while I think she has some real talent in her character development and creating a setting, I just couldn’t get my brain to stop saying, “Really? Are you kidding me?” over and over again with this one. Since her character Kathleen was given plenty of second chances in life, I’m happy to give Castellano one as well and hope she keeps writing.
Elizabeth Castellano grew up in a beach town. She lives in New York. SAVE WHAT’S LEFT is her debut novel. Check out her website, HERE.