Ahhhh I have such mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, it was filled with sunshine and summertime, leaving me craving my favorite ice cream–a single fudge brownie scoop in a waffle cone. 🍨 On the other hand, the characters and writing were unnecessarily frustrating. I think the plot had so much potential to be a feel-good Disney movie, but it felt more like a cheesy and somewhat cringey Lifetime movie.
The story itself had so much potential because I loved the whole ice cream stand and summer-before-college vibes, but that might be where my good feelings end. The book brands itself as “a summer read about first love, feminism, and ice cream” and, well, it certainly got one out of the three right. 😤 The romance itself felt very forced. The female friendships grew very catty, and the ending plot twist made me almost as frustrated as the ending of Allegiant.
Spoiler-free Summary: Summer in Sand Lake isn’t complete without a trip to Meade Creamery—the local ice cream stand founded in 1944 by Molly Meade who started making ice cream to cheer up her lovesick girlfriends while all the boys were away at war. Since then, the stand has been owned and managed exclusively by local girls, who inevitably become best friends. 17-year-olds Amelia and Cate have worked at the stand every summer for the past three years, and Amelia is “Head Girl” this summer. When Molly passes away, Amelia isn’t sure that the stand can go on. That is, until Molly’s grandnephew Grady arrives and asks Amelia to stay to help continue the business…but Grady’s got some changes in mind.
I give this book 2/5 ⭐⭐ because everything about it just felt below average. It didn’t satisfy the fluffy summer romance I was craving. It’s honestly really hard for me to rate this book because while there were parts I did enjoy…there were too many times I went WTF. I would still recommend giving this book a try because it might just come down to personal preference, but I can’t say I loved this book either. 🤷♀️
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
I’m honestly not a fan of third person POV unless the book highlights multiple main characters’ experiences (eg. Cassandra Clare’s books). ✏️ This book is no exception—the third person POV in this book made the flow of the writing very awkward and choppy. The pacing of the book also felt really uneven because the book was headed in so many directions where the actual problem in the plot didn’t arise until the halfway through the book. There were a lot of filler chapters that were neither entertaining to read for fun nor did they move the plot along. My biggest pet peeve has to be that there were so many scenes that painted the girls as stereotypically catty and immature rather than promote “feminism” as its branding claims. I definitely also love painting my nails and chatting with my friends, but the author made it seem as if the girls didn’t know how to do anything else while Grady, the only male character, was working hard in college courses and preserving the family business. 🙄
Amelia. I was trying so hard to root for our protagonist, but every time she made any character development she would backtrack. Her character development was literally one step forward and two steps back. She’s extremely reliant on Cate, her best friend, because it’s their last summer together before college, yet she spends all her time letting Grady walk all over her and making ice cream. While her leadership skills do improve by the end of the book, it was extremely delayed. I can understand her passive attitude and wanting to avoid conflict, but come on! She’s supposed to be head girl (manager)! Amelia also makes some pretty dumb decisions. Once she starts dating Grady, she decides to keep the relationship a secret, but we all know that Cate will be hurt once she finds out. Also, I was really annoyed that she kept reading Molly’s diary even after she found the recipe…it’s just so intrusive! 😤
Cate. For the first half of the book, Cate was my favorite character. She was fierce and confident yet also loyal and ambitious. She quit her job at the jump house to return to the ice cream stand for her best friend. BUT THEN…her character did a complete 180°. In the second half of the book, her character felt very different but not in a natural way. 🙃 It was like the author wrote a completely different person for the second half and tried to smush them into one character. She becomes such a bitch, but it feels very unnatural. As a reader, we can’t help but hate her and her actions, but I’m honestly more annoyed at the author than the character. Grady. Uhhh I don’t like him. There were certain scenes where I would pity him but never actually liked his character. Grady is a character with intense daddy issues, desiring for the ice cream stand to succeed so that he can please his father. He thinks of outlandish business ideas that are not realistically implementable (as pointed out by Amelia). He makes idiotic management decisions, frivolously spending on unnecessary stuff but being stingy on necessary equipment. In order to impress his father, he acts as a sexist, know-it-all jerk, taking credit for most (if not all) of Amelia’s hard work. He’s a character with a lot of talk but not a lot of walk. Still, I did feel bad for him when Cate and the other girls were taking advantage of him for his money.
The concept of this book had SO MUCH POTENTIAL. 😭 The ice cream stand was founded in 1944 when Molly Meade started making ice cream for her lovesick girlfriends while all the boys were away at war. Since then, it’s been passed down for generations. I’ve never read or watched Sister of the Traveling Pants so I might be getting it completely wrong, but it gives me that similar vibe. Instead, there was too much catty drama. Amelia and Cate’s friendship was rocky from the start of the book, but Amelia was more concerned with preserving an ice cream stand than her friendship. 💔 I can honestly understand why Cate is upset because she’s essentially be ignored by her best friend. You know that everything is going downhill when Cate takes Amelia’s place as head girl. Everything eventually implodes when Cate throws a drinking party at the ice cream stand.
Let’s talk about the ending plot twist…WAYNE IS ALIVE WTF?! I am not a fan of this plot twist. Basically, he comes back alive after the war and tells Molly to end the ice cream stand if she wants to stay together. Instead, they break up, and she decides to pretend that he died for the ice cream stand magic. ✨ I know that this plot twist is supposed to show that you don’t need a man in your life, but to me, pretending Wayne is dead just seems like maintaining an unnecessary sob story that would boost business. 😕In the end, Amelia decides to buy the ice cream stand. I actually really enjoyed this ambitious plan, but I laughed so hard when she started reading Grady’s college textbooks to draft a business plan because that just seemed so unrealistic. 😂
I was honestly not invested in the romance at all. LMAO 🤣 #SorryNotSorry. I’m glad that it wasn’t an insta-love type of relationship, but there wasn’t any proper development of them falling in love either. Honestly, I just don’t think they fit well together. I probably would’ve enjoyed this book more if there were no romance at all, most likely making my rating a 3 or 4 star instead of 2. I was more invested in the plotline of discovering the secret ice cream recipes than watching Amelia and Grady fall for each other.
The narrator’s voice is very soothing, but if you’re not really paying attention, it’s easy to not listen. The volume of the audiobook isn’t consistent throughout but it doesn’t bother me too much. Overall, it was still a nice audiobook experience. 🎧
While I did enjoy certain scenes in this book, by the ending I was unconvinced. I really wanted to like this book and everything about the summertime friendship and romance, but like I said before, this was more of a cringey Lifetime movie than a feel-good Disney chick flick.
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Have you read Stay Sweet? Did you love it like ice cream or did it melt into soup for you? Let me know in the comments! 💕