Recommended for ages 13+
Oakley Nelson’s reeling from the loss of her brother, Lucas, to bone cancer. She’s spent the last few months at his bedside, pulling away from friends, activities, and life. With her parents’ marriage in a tailspin, Oakley and her mom head to California to spend some time with her Aunt Jo, hoping the change of scenery will give them the space they need to recover.
Once in California, Oakley’s mom gives her a notebook, filled with letters written to her by Lucas. He leaves her with life lessons, small observations, and wry humor to help her move on, and she clings to the notebook like a life raft as she navigates getting to know the local teens in her aunt’s neighborhood, including Carson, a good-looking surfer who’s unlike any guy she’s ever met. She’s caught between her feelings for Carson and feeling guilty about moving on too quickly, but as she turns to Lucas’ own words for guidance and comfort, she realizes that going on with her life is exactly what Lucas wants her to do.
This is a moving YA novel dealing with grief, loss, and the fallout that happens when a terminally ill family member dies. Oakley’s anchor is gone when Lucas, her best friend and brother, dies; she’s devoted the last few months to him, abandoning friends and extracurricular activities. Her parents’ relationship is in turmoil, and with all the attention focused on Lucas, she doesn’t feel she can rely on either of them. She feels out of touch with other teens when she meets Carson and his friends, and her internal narrative is focused on how awkward she feels, and she often looks at herself with a self-deprecating sense of humor that’s funny and at the same time, teens will recognize and appreciate.
Love, Lucas will appeal to John Green, Gayle Forman, and Sarah Dessen fans. There’s romance, finding inner strength in the face of tragedy/adversity, and introspective dialogue that teens today gravitate to.
Chantele Sedgwick is the author of Not Your Average Fairy Tale and Not Your Average Happy Ending (Sarah Dessen fans, recognize!). Her author site offers more information about her books and