Welcome to Dog Beach: A Book Review

Hi!

Welcome to Dog BeachTitle: Welcome to Dog Beach

Author: Lisa Greenwald

Published: April 15th, 2014 by Amulet Books

Pages: 260

Genre: Middle Grade / Realistic Fiction

Source: Library / Hardcover

Series: Yep! Welcome to Dog Beach is the first book in the Seagate Summers Series. No information about future books is available at the moment.

Summary: Twelve-year-old Remy loves the traditions of Seagate, the island where her family spends every summer vacation, but after her grandmother and a special dog die, and her relationship with best friends Bennett and Micayla changes, Remy takes comfort in the company of the Dog Beach–where she hatches a plan to bring her friends closer and recapture the Seagate magic. {Goodreads}

My Thoughts: After reading all of Lisa Greenwald’s books, I think it is safe for me to say that she is the queen {or, at the very least, one of many :)} of middle grade realistic fiction. She has nailed the perfect combination of developed main characters, true-to-life friendships, adorable budding romances, and entertaining problems and solutions! Really, it’s more of a case of when to read her novels rather than ifWelcome to Dog Beach, her most recent release, follows up in the success of her past books, and I am excited to see what the rest of this series will bring.

Remy has always enjoyed staying on Seagate with her family and friends each summer. From the annual trivia contest to the Seagate Halloween celebration near Labor Day, there’s no shortage of traditions that make her favorite place so special. However, growing up brings along change, like new neighbors, new feelings, and new ideas, all of which Remy is not so sure she wants to deal with. I’ve found that realistic fiction best captures the difficulties of growing up; here, Greenwald tackles a topic that everyone has had to dealt with at some point: change. It’s clear to the reader from the very first chapter that Remy is someone who thrives on consistency and who will doubt herself when something different comes along. While older readers may be shaking their head at times due to the pre-teen drama, I have no doubt that younger audiences will relate to Remy’s anxious feelings about friendship fights and first crushes. Her instant connection with readers coupled with the author’s terrific development makes Remy a character who’s hard to forget.

What I usually love most about small beach town stories is that you often feel as if you’re a member of the community! Greenwald introduces a large cast of supporting characters, and while not all have major roles in the story, each manage to leave their mark in Seagate. You’ll smile when you read of a new relationship and grimace at the grumpy café owner. You’ll sympathize with the new mom and disapprove of the moody tweens. It’s not a long book, so their time may have been short in this one, but I hope to see the more memorable citizens of Seagate again in Book Two. I will say that some of the older secondary characters lack the depth I wished to see; it sometime seemed as if they were only there to teach Remy an important life lesson.

The plot is oh-so sweet, involving classic MG material, such as the ups and downs of new {and old!} friendships, but it also takes on deeper themes, like grieving over the death of a beloved relative and pet. While I enjoyed the story, I think it could have been made even stronger if more attention was put on Remy’s grieving instead of all of the tension that came with her “drama queen” attitude. Nevertheless, the pacing was spot-on, the dialogue was perfect for the character’s age, and thankfully, you realize quite a growth in Remy’s character by the very end.

Overall, Lisa Greenwald lived up to my high expectations! I have a soft spot for beach towns, but one look at the development of the protagonist, the supporting characters, and the plot should tell you that it’s a worthwhile read for anyone. The second book couldn’t come out soon enough.

Pros: I loved what a layered character Remy is. Although older readers may not relate to her feelings of growing up, I believe that the intended audience will connect with her right away. I also enjoyed the variety of supporting characters, and the plot moves quickly enough to keep the reader’s interest.

Cons: A handful of the adults felt more like advice givers rather than a person of Seagate. The story could have also been more balanced between the drama and Remy’s grieving.

Heads Up: Nothing to worry about!

Overall: I give it 4 1/2 stars {**** 1/2} and I recommend it for ages 10 and up.

Have a lovely day!

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3 thoughts on “Welcome to Dog Beach: A Book Review

  1. […] I first discovered Lisa Greenwald’s books in elementary school, and I instantly claimed her work as one of my favorites; although her novels are intended for the middle grade audience, I continue to read them today because they are just so CUTE! The next installment in her newest series, The Seagate Summer books, came out last month, so here’s hoping I can grab it before summer ends. {review of Book One} […]

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