First Frost, by Sarah Addison Allen

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Two stars, read February 2015.

This is the sixth of Sarah Addison Allen’s books that I’ve read. I loved three of the others and liked two well enough. She’s one of my anything-with-her-name-on-it authors; if she releases something new, I’m going to read it, and it will take me just a few hours and be lovely and decorative and sentimental. Everyone needs some fluff reading, and she is mine. But this book irritated me to no end, and based upon it I have decided that SAA needs to discover subtlety. Because she seems to think that everything, every scene and description and paragraph, requires Significance with a big, fat capital S.

A few things I didn’t like about the book, besides the unnecessary and contrived drama of nearly every sentence:

The name Bay, because it took me until at least the halfway point to stop picturing Beyonce each time I saw her name. Not SAA’s fault, if you want to be fair. But a factor nonetheless.

Bay’s obsession with Romeo and Juliet (which, thankfully, you at least find out—near the end—is not exclusive to R&J, that’s just how she reads things). One hundred percent SAA’s fault.

The actual whole Romeo and Juliet storyline, featuring teenagers, as it always does because people WILL insist on having teenagers Fall in Love while they are teenagers. The worst part is that this also included elements of “imprinting” like unto Twilight, which was also something I despised when I read it.

Sydney wanting to “give” her husband a son. What does the sound of vomiting look like written out? Just insert it here for me.

All the families in Bascom having a specific trait that every member of the family exhibits. Waverlys have random magic. Turnbulls are fertile (??). Youngs are physically strong. Nuguets know the weather. Clark women are sex experts. Matteson men break hearts and follow their fathers into business. Because yeah, that’s how people work.

The concept of first frost as an event that settles Waverly women back into normality after the period leading up to it, during which they are inexplicably driven to do insane things. As hard as SAA pushed it, I was never able to buy this premise.

The description—on the second page, and one of the quotes publicized in the Goodreads campaign before the book came out—of wet leaves being stuck to everything as “look[ing] like the world was covered in a cobbler crust of brown sugar and cinnamon.” You know what? We’ve all seen what wet leaves look like, and it is not glamorous.

The fact that I saw the word “disappointed” spelled “dissapointed.” There were a lot of surprising typos in Lost Lake, too, but those were all homophones, the kind of mistake that can be missed by a spellchecker because they are technically actually words. In no universe is there an excuse for “dissappointed.” What is the deal, St. Martin’s Press? What is the deal?

In the recipe for fig and pepper bread that’s included at the back, pepper is not listed among the ingredients. And I am just this minute noticing, as I write this review, that the first step of the instructions says, “Whisk four, salt, pepper, and yeast until blended.” Whisk four, not flour. I ASK AGAIN, ST. MARTIN’S PRESS. What is the deal.

So, okay, this book was a miss for me. But five hits and one miss isn’t too bad a ratio, and I still feel like I’ll want to read whatever she comes out with next. For now we can just pack First Frost away in the “not so much” pile, and move on.

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