Monday, July 10, 2017

Book Review: The Lake Effect by Erin McCahan

Pages: 400
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date:  July 11, 2017
Publisher: Dial
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: Love and Other Foreign Words
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "lake effect | n. The effect of any lake, especially the Great Lakes, in modifying the weather in nearby areas."  It’s the summer after his senior year, and driven, focused Briggs Henry is ready to leave behind his ex-girlfriend, his comically aggressive grandmother, and his parents’ money troubles for Lake Michigan and its miles of sandy beaches. He’s lined up a summer job working as a personal assistant and living in a gorgeous Victorian on the water—exactly the kind of house Briggs plans to buy his parents once he’s a multi-millionaire. But when he arrives, his boss, the eccentric Mrs. Bosic, tells him to get dressed for her funeral. Uh . . . It’s the first of many funerals they’ll attend this summer—to hilarious and eye-opening effect. Add to this a new set of friends-cum-enemies-cum-friends-again, and Abigail, the mysterious girl next door on whom Briggs’s charms repeatedly fail, and “the lake effect” is beginning to take on a whole new meaning."

Briggs Henry is a real catch.  He is a good student, college-bound, good-looking and comes from a caring family. He works a part-time job, plays on sports teams, and helps his grandmother out whenever he can. He's the picture perfect kid.  He gets a job for the summer helping out an elderly Serbian woman who has a big Victorian house on Lake Michigan.  Perfect job, right? He gets to help her out all summer while enjoying the lake lifestyle. This is coming at a good time for Briggs, because lately his life has been super stressful. His parents put a lot of pressure on him and his girlfriend recently dumped him, so a summer at the lake sounds perfect. His new employer, Mrs. B, is a no nonsense type of old lady who has him doing a variety of chores as well as escorting him to all of her appointments and funerals.  While living on the lake, he meets his next door neighbor, Abigail, who challenges him in every way.  Erin McCahan's The Lake Effect is summer reading at its best.

I really, really liked Briggs from the start in The Lake Effect.  His home life had me a little anxious though. All of the forced optimism, the motivational quotes spewed by his father, and the "failure isn't an option" mantra made more than a little nervous. I felt like Briggs needed a real parent with authentic discussions that are meaningful and less pressure from his father.  I could easily see why Briggs had a nervous stomach.  

The other secondary characters were outstanding.  His Grandmother Ruth, although not perfect by any means, had me cracking up.  I liked his relationship with his grandmother and like Briggs, I wanted her to let down her walls a bit too. I also adored his relationship with Mrs. B. It's rare that YA literature depicts a relationship between a teenager and an elderly person so well. I can't say enough about it; it was perfect, it was memorable, it was profound, and it shows that friendship comes in all shapes, sizes, and ages. 

The setting of The Lake Effect was also well done. I have never vacationed on a lake before, but I am a huge beach bum, so I could appreciate the laid-back vibes, the boating, the appeal of the water, the summertime activities, etc.  McCahan's descriptions had me wanting to plan my own vacation on Lake Michigan.

But The Lake Effect is so much more than your usual beach read. Not only did it have me laughing out loud (the most a book has made me laugh in years!), it had me thinking a lot about life and just going with the flow.  That's exactly what Brigg's summer at the lake requires of him.

The The Lake Effect is a smart and quirky read that I think fans of John Green, Rainbow Rowell, and Emery Lord will appreciate the most.  I loved the characters, the witty dialogue, the laugh-out-loud humor, the sarcasm, the gorgeous setting, and the book's overall message. The Lake Effect is one of my favorite books of the year and a beach read that shouldn't be missed this summer.


  1. This sounds like a really fun read, and I love that there's a positive teenager/adult relationship.

    1. Yes! I loved the relationship between Briggs and Mrs. B as well as Briggs and his grandmother. Thanks for visiting, Angela.

  2. Thanks for putting this on my radar! I will definitely be making time to read it this summer. It sounds wonderful!

    I have never vacationed on a lake before (not a swimmer or boater so probably wouldn't enjoy it) but my brother in law grew up going to his family's lake house and has wonderful memories of it. I love that the book features a great friendship between a teen and an elderly person.

    1. I think you'd really like it, Christina! I hope you can read it this summer. Thanks for visiting!


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