HELLO, SUNSHINE. Set in Los Angeles, it features our heroine, Emi, who is a production designer. This means she puts together and obtains items for sets in plays and movies. (What a cool job!) One day, she goes to a big estate sale up in the hills and finds out it used to belong to a big-shot cowboy actor from way back when (think Clint Eastwood). She and her friend, Charlotte, each walk out with a souvenir: a belt buckle and a Patsy Cline record. But the girls get a surprise: inside the record is a note that the actor wrote to his estranged daughter in the event of his death.
Whenever I love a book, I find it hard to express why I loved it without delving into a full-scale rant where I just scream "IT WAS GOOD!" and "READ IT!" with tons of gifs and emojis. It's hard to have any chill when you're really excited about something, which is why I tend to prefer to go about listing out thoughts in bullet points.
🌺 Female friendship is a major focal point. With so many books featuring girl-on-girl hate, it's honestly so refreshing to read a book that has so many positive female friendships. I loved Emi's relationship with Charlotte. And Emi's ex, Morgan, might be a bad girlfriend, but she's a really solid friend. I think that distinction is incredibly important and it's nice to see an ex who isn't a raging trash fire, for a change.
🌺 It's an ode to L.A. We all know L.A. isn't perfect, but this book kind of lulls you into thinking it might be. Awesome food, casual diversity, scenic panoramas, beautiful sunsets, Hollywood glitz and glamor, and exciting jobs in the film industry. Plus, MOVIES AND FILM PORN. If you love movies, I think you'll really love this book, because it's basically pandering to film buffs.
🌺 Slow burn romance. Okay, so this is going to be a miss for some people because it can be really frustrating to just sit there screaming NOW KISS to two characters who are obviously into each other but refuse to make a move... but this also leads to some really great emotional depth between Emi and Ava. And honestly, after reading so much adult erotica that centers on the physical, it's kind of nice to read a clean romance that features a really deep connection between two teens wanting love.
🌺 Family histories and secret legacies. This is honestly one of my FAVORITE tropes. (In fact, I'll be featuring a post about exactly this on my Instagram tomorrow, so stay tuned...) I loved how that simple letter in the record ended up unraveling into road trips and amateur detective work. I don't want to say too much because part of the fun is in the discovery, but this was really well done and added an almost mystery element to the book that I really enjoyed.
🌺 Diversity! Emi is a quarter Black and Ava's friend, Jamal, is Black. There are tons of side characters who aren't white, too (which you would expect from a book set in L.A., and yet...). Plus, it's an LGBT+ story between two girls who love girls, so there's that.
So obviously, I loved this book. It had some slow moments and the romance is reaaaaaaally slow (like, this is basically the YA version of a Mariana Zapata book, pacing-wise), but the way it focused on film was super fun and I loved the mystery elements and how all the characters popped off the page. Definitely going to be checking out more from this author ASAP. If you liked HELLO, SUNSHINE, you should read this book (and if you liked this book, check out HELLO, SUNSHINE).
4 to 4.5 out of 5 stars