Monday, June 28, 2021

Lady Sunshine by Amy Mason Doan

Lady Sunshine
by Amy Mason Doan
Expected publication: June 29th 2021 by Graydon House

For Jackie Pierce, everything changed the summer of 1979, when she spent three months of infinite freedom at her bohemian uncle’s sprawling estate on the California coast. As musicians, artists, and free spirits gathered at The Sandcastle for the season in pursuit of inspiration and communal living, Jackie and her cousin Willa fell into a fast friendship, testing their limits along the rocky beach and in the wild woods... until the summer abruptly ended in tragedy, and Willa silently slipped away into the night.

Twenty years later, Jackie unexpectedly inherits The Sandcastle and returns to the iconic estate for a short visit to ready it for sale. But she reluctantly extends her stay when she learns that, before her death, her estranged aunt had promised an up-and-coming producer he could record a tribute album to her late uncle at the property’s studio. As her musical guests bring the place to life again with their sun-drenched beach days and late-night bonfires, Jackie begins to notice startling parallels to that summer long ago. And when a piece of the past resurfaces and sparks new questions about Willa’s disappearance, Jackie must discover if the dark secret she’s kept ever since is even the truth at all.

5 Stars

Lady Sunshine was a whim pickup for me. I loved the cover, the blurb sounded fantastic, and well, I can't ignore anything with folk music. A young adult girlhood dream to live with the land, to see a musician at work, to live alongside the ocean. The seventeen-year Jackie of 1979 doesn't yet know this will be the summer that shapes her, that changes her forever, but soon she will. The hardened Jackie of 1999 knows what those three-months did to her, to her family, but she still finds she can't deny the pull of Graham Kingston's music, her memories of Willow, and a sundrenched summer. The summer of '79 ended in heartbreak, the summer of '99 appears to be starting that way, but the musicians who are bringing Sandcastle back to life again may hold answers that Jackie didn't even know she was searching for.

I admit, I did not expect to get pulled into this story the way that I did, it was quite impossible to put down. Amy Mason Doan does such an incredible job of taking you into the past, into a musical world, and into the thoughts of a 17-year-old girl and a 37-year-old woman. Filled with nostalgia and evocative descriptions, Lady Sunshine is the summer read you didn't know you needed. I was completely captivated by Jackie and Willa, the two cousins whos lives couldn't be any more different, but who found a bond that summer as they grew into themselves, as they faced the truth of fame and family secrets. Even better, Jackie's voice grows with her and I loved seeing the summer of '79 from her adult perspective, I love how Doan wrote about the hold it had on her, how the magic of the 400 acres never faded.

If you love historical fiction about the more recent past, folk music, and books like Daisy Jones, Lady Sunshine is a must pick up. A beautiful, dual-timeline tale that takes place in sunny California during the huge folk wave of the seventies.

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