At 17, Layla Weston is already starting over. Having lost both her parents and grandparents, and with nowhere else to go, Layla is moving from Florida to a small town in North Carolina to live with the only family she has left: her estranged uncle and aunt.
The last five years of Layla’s life were spent appeasing her less-than-loving grandmother, followed by being her grandfather’s caretaker. Growing old before her time, Layla lost her identity. Now she must learn how to allow herself to be the one cared for and loved.
Life takes an unexpected turn when Layla meets Will Meyer. His breathtaking good looks are enough to catch her eye, but his sincerity and passion are everything she needs to find the strength and confidence she lost — and lead her into love.
When tragedy once again strikes Layla’s life, her hope is all but completely crushed. Through it all, Layla learns what it means to truly love and be loved.
Title: The Lake (The Lake Trilogy #1)
Author: AnnaLisa Grant
Source: Free on Amazon
Publication date: January 15, 2014
Layla has experienced a tremendous amount of loss in the last five years. Her parents died when she was twelve, after which she moved in with her grandparents. Her grandmother (who was emotionally abusive and blamed Layla, a child, for her parents’ death) died two years later. Layla has spent the past three years caring for her grandfather and now he’s gone too. Layla’s only option is to move to a new state to live with her aunt and uncle, who she’s met three times in her life — and two of those times were at funerals.
It doesn’t take long for Layla to settle in and adjust to her new life. It’s certainly an easier life than being the sole caregiver to an elderly man and things are definitely looking up when she meets Will. Their romance is sweet, if a bit unexciting. Their relationship is definitely the focus of the book, but it’s nice that they have friends too. His friend group immediately accepts Layla and the girls especially help her navigate her new school, a charter school that is much nicer than any school Layla could have dreamed of. They have a waitstaff in their dining hall!
The Lake is set over a period of about a year. It’s summer when Layla moves to North Carolina and it’s just after graduation when the book ends. Like life sometimes does, time seems to move quickly in the book. One minute Layla is shopping for school clothes and it seems like no time has passed at all when it’s Christmas. I would have liked it if the pace was a little slower. The Lake is a little light on details, out of necessity, but the story is interesting enough to make it not matter too much.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t problems with this book. There are times when some of the characters don’t speak the way real people do. Their language seems stilted or something, not all the time, just occasionally. Some of the characters are way over the top. I didn’t really buy that Layla’s grandfather loved her grandmother sooooo much when the woman was a complete bitch to a preteen Layla. Did Gramps miss those qualities in his wife or what? She must have been a miserable woman and from the sound of it, she was determined to make Layla’s life miserable too. How could he live with that? How could he allow her to treat Layla that way? Then there’s Will’s father, who is a complete monster. There’s always some new evil act that he’s committing or threatening to commit and by the end of the book, it’s kind of laughable the lengths he’s willing to go to just to keep Layla and Will apart. Never mind that they’re going off to college in separate states and probably won’t last. Must break them up NOW!
Fair warning, this book ends on a cliffhanger. I’m definitely going to have to read the second book soon because I am dying to know what happens next.