Book Review: Sand Castle Dreams by Taylor Bennet

Usually, when it comes time for a sequel, I prepare myself to be disappointed. I find that sequels can never quite live up to their predecessors. But in Sand Castle Dreams, I happily found a sequel that is just as good as its predecessor. Keep on reading to learn more! =)

My Rating: Four and a Half Slices of Key Lime Pie out of Five

About the Book…

Sometimes we have to face our greatest fears in order to become whole again.

Returning to Maui after one of the most challenging summers of her life, sixteen-year-old Olive Galloway is ready for things to return to normal—or, at least, a new normal. But even though she and her sister are back on the island they love, nothing is the same since they left for Boston a few months ago. Olive’s friend Jazz is hiding a secret—possibly something even worse than the cancer diagnosis she received earlier in the year. Can Olive ever stop running from memories of all they’ve lost?

When their friend Brander suggests Jazz attends the church’s teen support group, Olive thinks it’s a great idea—until Jazz insists that Olive join her. While the group is the perfect place for Olive to share her struggles, she wants nothing to do with it. Instead, grief threatens to roll over her like the ocean waves, and tiny fibs turn into looming secrets. When a scruffy puppy and one viral video send another storm rolling into Olive’s life, she ends up face-to-face with her biggest fear. And the only way to make it out of the tempest is to go straight through.

Buy Sand Castle Dreams on Amazon ~ View Sand Castle Dreams on Goodreads

What I Loved….

I loved the way that friendships were portrayed. Brander, Jazz, and Olive are such a great friend group! I wish that YA fiction had more friend groups like them. Too often YA books focus on romance. Which brings me to my next point…

The “romance” going on didn’t take over the story. The focus of the story wasn’t on the romance, and the subtle romance didn’t take over the story as it does in so many books. I loved this because being teenager is about so much more than dating and breakups.

The character arcs were phenomenal. It was exciting to be able to see how Olive and the other characters grew and progressed from Porch Swing Girl.

All of the desserts that Olive’s grandmother made!!! Um, yes, this is a total highlight. Can Olive’s grandmother just cook for me? Yes? Perfect! And you can actually have some of her cooking by making the recipe in the back of the book! Don’t you love it when there are recipes in the back of books?

The themes and messages packed into this book were a big highlight for me. From dealing with grief to authenticity to saying goodbye to helping friends, the themes, examples, and messages in Sand Castle Dreams are sure to uplift, encourage, and inspire readers, as well as bring them closer to God.

The setting of Lahaina, Hawaii, was so well written. I felt like I was in Hawaii eating shave ice and walking along the ocean with Olive and company. I really, really want to go to Hawaii now…

“It’s okay to cry, sweetie. It only means you have a heart so full it doesn’t have room for tears.”

-Sand Castle Dreams by Taylor Bennet

What I Didn’t Love…

Olive slightly annoyed me sometimes. She seemed a bit whiny at times, in my opinion. A bit whiny and moody, but she made up for it in the end. =) 

It felt a bit preachy at times. Olive’s friends and grandmother seemed to “preach” a bit to Olive. I feel like themes and messages could have been delivered better in different ways and been just as, if not even more, effective.

Conclusion…

Sand Castle Dreams is the epitome of a good summer read. It’s got a summery setting. It has a great group of friends. And, most importantly, there’s a lot of dessert. 😉 I’d highly recommend this to anyone who loves YA Christian fiction or a good contemporary story.

About the Author…

Taylor Bennett is the seventeen-year-old author of contemporary YA fiction. Homeschooled since kindergarten, she is a proud homebody who suffers from the rare–yet always severe–case of wanderlust. 

Although she dreams of traveling to many different places, her favorite destination thus far (aside from her charming hometown in Oregon) is Lahaina, Hawaii. Taylor was so enamored with this tropical town that she became determined to write about it, hence her debut novel, Porch Swing Girl, the first in a series of books set in Hawaii.

A lover of literature since birth, Taylor found her love of writing fueled under the instruction of Andrew Pudewa and the other teachers at the Institute for Excellence in Writing, where she now works as an editor for their magazine.

When she isn’t writing, Taylor enjoys cooking, drawing, and taking long walks in the beauty of the Pacific Northwest

Visit Taylor’s Website ~ Find Taylor on Instagram

Note: I received a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Have you read Sand Castle Dreams? What would you do on a trip to Hawaii?

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