Book Review: Neena Lee is Seeing Things by Sheila Athens

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting author Sheila Athens in person, as she lives near me in Northeast Florida. So, I was excited to dive into her newest novel set just north of us on Cumberland Island. I love a good beach read in a place you can visit, and I’ve been to Cumberland Island many times.

If Cumberland Island sounds familiar, but you can’t quite place it, that’s probably because it was the secret destination JFK Jr. chose to wed Carolyn Bessette. Which brings us to Neena Lee is Seeing Things, which is not only set on Cumberland Island but also involves the ghosts of two very famous former newlyweds.

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Travel alongside Neena Lee, a 56-year-old travel writer grappling with grief, anxiety, and an ageist workplace. When a younger editor finally offers Neena an assignment to the beautiful Cumberland Island in Georgia, little does she expect to encounter the spirit of John F. Kennedy Jr., who is desperately searching for his beloved in the afterlife.

What begins as a seemingly fantastical encounter blossoms into an unlikely friendship that forces Neena to confront her demons head-on. Kennedy’s charismatic presence encourages her to stop berating herself over her brother’s death and instead learn to show herself the compassion she deserves. As Neena’s missions to help reunite the famous couple evolve, she finds herself making unexpected progress in confronting her own mental health struggles.

With rich descriptive details that transport readers to the island’s lush landscapes, the author balances magical realism with emotional truth. Neena’s experiences serve as a profound meditation on loss, healing, and the ways our loved ones can linger as guides even after they’re gone. This tale will resonate with anyone who has grappled with grief, self-doubt, or the need to save themselves before it’s too late.

I listened to the audiobook on Audible, and the narrator, Leslie Howard, was great. It was an easy listen and really brought the characters and scenery to life. I can definitely recommend it!

Check out my other favorite beach reads set in places you can actually visit.


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