Choosing my first beach read of the summer was a painstaking process. I read so, so many summaries of books online, not quite sure which was quite right for me. Then I spotted “The Boy Is Back” at my local branch of the Boston Public Library and KNEW I’d found the one!!
Meg Cabot was one of my favorite authors growing up. I have read nearly everything she’s written for young adults and many, many of her adult novels. I read one of her first YA Novels, the iconic “Princess Diaries” at 12 year old, and from then on I have been hooked on her quick, smart, colloquial writing style. When I read a Meg Cabot book, it’s like going on a road trip with my childhood friend.
Like all the books in the “Boy” series (which I have read all of over the years), this book is a sort of modern epistolary told through text messages, emails, and newspaper articles. It takes place in the small town of Bloomfield, Indiana. the protagonist, Becky Flowers, runs this really interesting business that helps senior citizens downsize and relocate to assisted living facilities.
Becky was easy for me to relate to in so, so many ways. At the start of the novel we learn that although Becky has a great boyfriend ( with a beard, referred to as “the lumbersexual” which made me lol) she’s not so sure that the path she’s on is the right one. We also learn that she’s had a high-school sweetheart named Reed who had kind of ghosted on her after they had a disastrous prom night together, and left town never to return. Reed has since became a successful, famous golf player.
When Reed’s parents instabilities go public (and I mean public) Reed makes his way home for the first time in over a decade. He then hires Becky to work with his parents as they come to terms with the fact that they’re no longer fit to be living on their own.
I don’t know about you guys, but when I went through this stuff with my own grandmother, it was very emotional. So even though the original set up of the book felt kind of like a stereotypical romance, that little subplot of choosing what is right for our elderly- but still adult/independence loving- loved ones brought a little added depth to the book as a whole.
Becky and Reed end up working closely to help his parents out of a tough situation, and it’s cute to read along as their affection towards one another re-emerges. There are lots of funny, family-centric challenges that Reed and Becky have to deal with, from Becky’s sassy drunk little sister making a scene to Reed’s out of touch niece and nephew throwing a party and serving horse cough syrup as punch.
And in true Meg Cabot style, everything ties up in a pretty little bow at the end!
This book wasn’t exactly a deep read, but it was a fun story to get into while babysitting my niece at the beach. It was short, simple, and happy, which is all you can really ask for in a summer read!