Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Book Review: Save What's Left by Elizabeth Castellano

Pages: 304
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: June 27, 2023
Publisher: Anchor
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "When Kathleen Deane's husband, Tom, tells her he's no longer happy with his life and their marriage, Kathleen is confused. They live in Kansas. They've been married thirty years. Who said anything about being happy? But with Tom off finding himself, Kathleen starts to think about what she wants. And her thoughts lead her to a small beach community on the east coast, a town called Whitbey that has always looked lovely in the Christmas letters her childhood friend Josie sends every year. It turns out, though, that life in Whitbey is nothing like Josie's letters. Kathleen's new neighbor, Rosemary, is cantankerous, and the town's supervisor won't return Kathleen's emails, but worst of all is the Sugar Cube, the monstrosity masquerading as a holiday home that Kathleen's absentee neighbors are building next door to her quaint (read: tiny) cottage. As Kathleen gets more and more involved in the fight against the Sugar Cube and town politics overall, she realizes that Whitbey may not be a fairytale, but it just might be exactly what she needed. Save What's Left can best be described as the "un-beach read." It pulls back the curtain on life in a beach town, revealing the true cost of a pretty view. Told from the candid and irreverent perspective of a newcomer turned local, this is a story of forgiveness, fortitude, and second chances."


59-year-old Kathleen has left dreary Kansas behind to live out her dream on Long Island. After her husband suggested they divorce and he proceeds to travel on a European cruise without her, she plans to start over in an idyllic beach town recommended to her by her lifelong friend. When she moves into her two-bedroom beach shack on the water, she is expecting to find a beautiful and peaceful escape. It is anything but that! The house needs some work and next door to her they are building a monstrosity that is many floors and aptly dubbed the "Sugar Cube." The construction next door and on the street is driving her nuts as well as her neighbor, Rosemary, whom she immediately befriends as they have a common enemy. The construction project is causing her many issues not to mention all the violations of the town's codes. She writes the town supervisor to no avail and starts attending town meetings regarding various issues, such as the development of a vacant waterfront property. Living in a beach town has much more political issues than she thought before, but this town seems especially filled with some questionable incidents. To make matters worse, Tom, her estranged husband, shows up on her driveway in an Airstream ready to hang out! Elizabeth Castellano's debut, Save What's Left, had me laughing out loud one minute and cringing the next. It's a fresh take on beach reads and I am here for it!

I felt for Kathleen from the start of
Save What's Left. How could I not? She just wanted to start over in a sleepy beach town, but it has been nothing short of a disaster. After personally living next door to very disturbing construction for over a year, I could relate to Kathleen. However, she takes it above and beyond; she becomes obsessed with the Sugar Cube as well as its impact on her street. Kathleen, being a bit wacky, finds that this gives her purpose, but it's not exactly healthy. I could understand her frustration as many town officials blatantly disregarded the Sugar Cube's violation of town codes. Slowly, Kathleen peels back the layers of the beach town to expose something a little more disturbing underneath.

What really drew me in was Castellano's writing style. It was so good! I found it to be witty and funny; there were moments when I was laughing out loud-- in public! My only issue with
Save What's Left was that at times Kathleen's plight did get repetitive, but by the second half of the book, the plot does get moving. If you are looking for a beach read that is a bit different than the usual fare, look no further! Let me know if Save What's Left is on your TBR list and your thoughts in the comments below.



  1. This definitely sounds quite different from a "normal" beach read, but I like it!

    1. Yes, it totally turned the genre on its head, but it was fun! Definitely made me laugh. Thanks for visiting, Angela!


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