An Appalachian summer walks the line between toxic and intoxicating in this debut novel about first loves, broken hearts, and moonshine.
Luisa “Lulu” Mendez has just finished her final year of high school in a small Virginia town, determined to move on and leave her job at the local junkyard behind. So when her father loses her college tuition money, Lulu needs a new ticket out.
Desperate for funds, she cooks up the (illegal) plan to make and sell moonshine with her friends. Quickly realizing they’re out of their depth, they turn to Mason, a local boy who’s always seemed like a dead end. As Mason guides Lulu through the secret world of moonshine, it looks like her plan might actually work. But can she leave town before she loses everything?
My Best Everything is Lulu’s letter to Mason – but is it a love letter, an apology, or a goodbye?
Ok, let’s start with a positive. My Best Everything is a compelling story about a girl’s desperation to leave her humdrum life behind. Lulu Mendez knows that there is nothing for her in her hometown of Dale. She dreams of being free of the lack of opportunity. She knows that if she stays in Dale she will die there too and her dreams are bigger than that. So when the likelihood of achieving her dreams is compromised by a lack of money Lulu makes the dangerous decision to take fate into her own hands.
Sarah Tomp excellently portrays Lulu’s desperation. You cannot help but wish things to be different for Lulu and you empathise with her when her father loses her college tuition. However, at times Lulu can come across as bull-headed and whiney. Yes, we get that she feels stuck but just defer for a year, and do what half the population do and earn enough money to send yourself to college.
Another rather cloying thing about My Best Everything is the way the story is told. I understand that the story is supposed to be a letter to Mason, the boy who tries to help her escape but the perspective of the story – first person narrative told in the past perspective – just became frustrating. I think the story would have been more engaging if it was told in the present and from multi perspective.
My Best Everything is a good story but I personally feel it would have been more enjoyable had it been written slightly differently.
My Best Everything by Sarah Tomp is available now.