Summary (from the publisher):
Budding photographer Josie Saint-Martin has spent half her life with her single mother, moving from city to city. When they return to her historical New England hometown years later to run the family bookstore, Josie knows it’s not forever. Her dreams are on the opposite coast, and she has a plan to get there.
What she doesn’t plan for is a run-in with the town bad boy, Lucky Karras. Outsider, rebel…and her former childhood best friend. Lucky makes it clear he wants nothing to do with the newly returned Josie. But everything changes after a disastrous pool party, and a poorly executed act of revenge lands Josie in some big-time trouble—with Lucky unexpectedly taking the blame.
Determined to understand why Lucky was so quick to cover for her, Josie discovers that both of them have changed, and that the good boy she once knew now has a dark sense of humor and a smile that makes her heart race. And maybe, just maybe, he’s not quite the brooding bad boy everyone thinks he is…
My Rating: 5/5 Stars
If there was only one book I was going to fall head-over-heels in love with in 2020, it was Jenn Bennett’s Chasing Lucky. How could I not fall in love with a book by one of my all-time favorite authors that takes place in the summer on the East Coast AND whose main character’s family owns a bookstore AND develops feelings for her ex-best friend? I was fortunate enough to have read an early copy of Chasing Lucky back in February, with the book originally being slated to come out in May, but its release date was pushed to November during the height of the pandemic. I’m so happy that everyone can read the book that stole my heart earlier in this year now – I’m already planning to dive into my finished copy!
There is SO much to explore about Chasing Lucky, but let’s start with the one element guaranteed to please all readers: THE BOOKSTORE! Chasing Lucky begins with Josie and her mom’s move back to their New England hometown in Rhode Island to run the family bookstore, Siren’s Book Nook. Since the town, Beauty, is set right on the water, Siren’s Book Nook’s takes on a nautical theme, but is just as cozy as you would expect from a Jenn Bennett book. I’m also ready to be best friends with Josie’s cousin, Evie, who spends her breaks at the bookstore reading paperback romances. Josie is also a photographer at heart, and the bookstore’s backroom doubles as her dark room. While the plot doesn’t directly involve the bookstore, I really loved having this setting and atmosphere.
Speaking of atmosphere, the overall setting of Chasing Lucky that is Beauty makes me want to take a trip up to New England ASAP! Told over Josie’s summer, Chasing Lucky transports readers to the best season of the year to this small, coastal town. I loved Josie’s trips to the town’s nautical-themed coffee ship and the days spent near on the water.
Like all of Jenn Bennett’s books, Chasing Lucky delves so much into family’s relationships. After her mother and grandmother’s blow-up fight years ago, Josie and her mom, Winona, have been living on the road while Winona moves from bookstore job to bookstore job. Josie craves stability and some place to come home, with her heart set on moving out to California after high school to work with her estranged, photography star father. Josie and Winona do not have the best relationship, as Winona often does not want to explain her past. This includes the fight that made me them leave Beauty and Josie’s best friend, Lucky, behind. Josie and Winona’s fights and disagreements definitely get ugly, especially since Winona’s past relationships makes Josie the spectacle at a party and leads to a summer-long feud with the son of Beauty’s most influential business owner. Neither Josie nor Winona are in the right in their relationship, but it makes their relationship feel all the more real and hit readers right in the feels.
The relationship that is truly at the heart of Chasing Lucky is between Josie and her ex-best friend, Lucky. Josie is afraid for her return to Beauty, partly because of where she left things with Lucky, and partly because of the Saint-Martins’ curse, in which the women in her family have absolutely no luck wtih their romances. The book takes on the best friends-turned enemies- turned lovers trope (trust me, it’s a thing) and completely nails it. Something that I loved about Josie was her enthusiasm and yes, chattiness, which almost always comes out when talking to Lucky. Their banter was so cute to read and definitely helped them reform their friendship into something new. While I’ll talk a bit more about Josie next, Lucky is also a character who is so easy for readers to fall in love with. Lucky seems like the town’s bad boy, but there is so much to explore about his past and his behavior now. I really loved any scene at his family’s boat company and their Greek family get-togethers.
While still on Lucky and Josie’s relationship, one thing that I appreciate about all of Jenn Bennett’s books is the maturity and sex positivity within all of the romantic relationships. Jenn Bennett is not afraid to talk about sex (I loved it when Josie exclaims early on that she is a virgin) and the romance scenes don’t get too, too steamy when compared to adult contemporary romance write or imply that her characters have sex. She handles it well, and I think she really creates another layer of relatedness between her characters and some YA readers.
Finally, even though I haven’t met a Jenn Bennett protagonist I didn’t like, I loved Josie as a whole. She isn’t perfect by any means, but I loved her energy and determination. Although not the best situation, I loved her reaction to the window scene with Lucky, exclaiming that she might have just ruined Christmas. Between her relationship with Lucky and learning about her family’s past, Josie grows so much in this book. She really re-evaluates what she wants from her future path and her relationships and how her actions really impact that latter group.
Overall, Jenn Bennett’s Chasing Lucky is such an incredible and addicting YA contemporary that nails all of its elements. Please excuse me while I sob and reread all of her books until the next one comes out.
Chasing Lucky comes out on November 10, 2020.
This review is based on an advance reader’s copy. By no means did receiving this ARC affect my thoughts or opinions.
Is Chasing Lucky on your TBR? What Jenn Bennett books have you read? Which ones are you favorites? Share in the comments!