Kristi reviews Lemon Reef by Robin Silverman

Jenna is shocked to receive the phone call that told her that her high school love has died from a heart attack while diving at Lemon Reef. Even though they had not been in contact, the shock of Del’s death is overshadowed by old memories and by a request from her ex’s family to fight Del’s husband Talon for custody of Del’s daughter, Khila. As a court Commissioner, Jenna has dealt with many custody battles, and she knows that Talon with his penchant for drugs will be worse for the child than Del’s family. As Jenna deals with coming back home and memories from her past with Del, she soon learns that Del’s death may not be the accident it seems.

Silverman tells the tale through Jenna’s experiences, alternating the story between present day events and the past moments that brought Jenna and Del together — and drove them apart. An intricately layered story of first love and its failure to be a “happily ever after,” Lemon Reef is actually not (as one might suspect) a story of being unable to move on from a lost love. Instead, it is one of laying the past to rest: Jenna deals with Del’s family for the sake of Khila, which allows her to come full circle in her relationship with Del. While the mystery within the book is not so mysterious, the lengths that Jenna and Del’s sisters go to discover the truth about Del’s death give an intensity of discovery to the storyline that most mystery readers will enjoy.

I did struggle a bit with the flashbacks — the intensity of those parts seem to overshadow what was happening in the present. While knowing who these characters were in the past was important to understand many of their motivations, it did make the transition from Jenna’s perspective to her perception of Del trickier to go between without feeling a bit lost. What solidified Jenna’s experience through the book was the final conversation with Del’s daughter, Khila. Without giving too much away, this moment is where it all comes full circle for Jenna. Lemon Reef will be enjoyed for its bittersweet taste of remembering the past and continuing to live in the present.

Note: This book will publish on July 17, 2012. This review copy was provided by the publisher through NetGalley.