I’ll admit that I’m a little biased when it comes to this author. Jenny Hale is not only one of my favorite authors, she’s also been a great friend and confidant over the last couple of years as I’ve made the transition from nonfiction to fiction as an author.
That being said, Summer at Firefly Beach (and The House on Firefly Beach, which followed) is among my very favorites from Hale. From the picturesque house on the beach where fireflies dance in the evening to the budding relationship Hallie and Ben are fighting, everything about this book draws you in like a friend inviting you to come sit on the wraparound porch of Starlight Cottage.
As Summer at Firefly Beach begins, Hallie Flynn is packing up to head south to Firefly Beach. Her beloved Aunt Clara has passed away, leaving behind a bucket list Hallie must complete in order to get her inheritance. This list isn’t full of Aunt Clara’s dreams and goals though, it’s a list Hallie wrote when she was 12. Hallie doesn’t really understand why Aunt Clara wants her to complete the list. After all, how many of us are doing the things we imagined as a child?
Accompanying Hallie on the trip is her childhood best friend Ben Murray, who seems to know her even better than she knows herself, her mother, sister and nephew. Although they’re all headed to Firefly Beach to help widower Uncle Hank, it’s perhaps Hallie who needs the most help. In addition to losing her aunt, she’s in a dead-end job and has recently broken off her engagement.
And, of course, her problems won’t end there. That’s because she’s suddenly seeing Ben in a new light, and more than one thing is keeping her from giving into her attraction to him.
I loved Summer at Firefly Beach because it went beyond a simple friends-to-lovers tale. Hallie is going through something many 20- and 30-somethings face when they realize their lives haven’t turned out quite like they planned. Aunt Clara may be gone, but her parting gift to Hallie will change the course of her entire life.
I love a good small town beach setting, but that alone does not a good book make. The writing in this book is superb, and I think we can all learn a little something right alongside Hallie if we’re open to it.