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  • Mandy McHugh

Rock the Boat, Beck Dorey-Stein: A Review

4.5 rounded up I've had some pretty heavy subject matter in my queue lately, so I was really excited to be pre-approved for something a little lighter with an interesting summary. I love a good rom-com with elements of women's fiction and quickly dove in.

When Kate's fiance doesn't propose as planned, she returns to her seaside hometown in New Jersey in order to figure out a way to win him back. Reuniting with her childhood friend Ziggy and his best friend Miles, Kate navigates her unexpected changes, trying to figure out who she is, what she wants, and how to achieve these things. What follows is an exploration of mid-life coming-of-age and growth that will warm your heart. I really enjoyed this book. So often, coming-of-age is relegated to the YA sphere. Eighteen year olds struggling with the college or career choices. The loss of innocence when they start to realize people are more than just good or bad. Kate, however, is a refreshing take on this trope, a woman in her thirties who was ambivalent in her life but unable to change for fear of loneliness, disappointment, or failure. I found her voice to be at times naive and others insightful and sharp--a beautiful blending that shows not only do people not have it altogether in their thirties, but that there's nothing wrong with taking time to figure things out. She reminded me a lot of Elle Woods in the beginning, and that transformation hits all the right notes of sweet and inspiring without being sappy. Miles and Ziggy are equally strong characters, and I loved the dynamic between them. Humorous exchanges and moments of heart-wrenching sadness, I was invested in their individual struggles and the authentic feel to their friendships. While some of the prose was a bit dense, Dorey-Stein's in depth character analysis goes a long way to forming their motivations and overall payoff in the final few chapters. At its heart, Rock the Boat is a story about grief and redemption, growth and loss, and strives to show that people are capable of change at any time in their lives. I have no doubt this will win a place in the hearts of many readers. Thank you to The Dial Press/Random House and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.

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