Go to Your Local Library! (A Random Appeal)

While the summer heatwave is getting the best of us, I’m catching up with some fantastic books. I love encouraging my toddler to read, and although we admittedly have a pretty impressive library of well-loved books, it’s also important to me that we go to our local library at least once every two weeks.

It’s my understanding that each time you visit your local library and check out a book or participate in activities, this leads to more funding or opportunities for that particular branch (ask your librarian for specifics). Requesting books can increase the number of available copies, or they can even help put new authors on your shelves (insert dainty *ahem* here). In any case, showing love to your local libraries is one small, yet impactful way to strengthen your community. Yay, libraries!

The Art of Falling in Love by Haleigh Wenger

Our little family participated in the Summer Reading Challenge, where each person read either 30 books or for 30 hours within a certain period of time in exchange for two free passes to the National History Museum and additional swag. It’s a 100% win-win situation. The last book I read to complete the summer challenge was Haleigh Wenger’s The Art of Falling In Love, where I had the honor and privilege of being an Advance Reader.

At this point, you should know that #AtinaReads “sweet” romance. This YA book goes beyond that by incorporating social commentary as well.
It’s hard enough falling in love – imagine navigating those treacherous waters while being homeless:

Seventeen-year-old Claire Haynes always spends summer vacation at her family’s beach house in Florida, sketching and dreaming of art school with her biggest fan–her Opa. But when Opa dies right before summer break, all Claire has left besides her memories is a sand-sculpting contest application with her name on it and the lingering question of why Opa filled it out in the first place. Claire has never even made a decent sandcastle, but she reluctantly turns in the entry forms, hoping the contest will help her navigate the grieving process by honoring one of Opa’s last wishes.

When she meets Foster, a teenage boy with a talent for turning recyclables into abstract sculptures, the two join forces to win the contest and salvage the Summer of Art. They spend the humid summer days shoveling sand, devouring ice cream, and exploring Florida’s art scene. Just like Opa, Foster understands Claire and her overwhelming need to create, but he has a secret that threatens to ruin everything: he’s homeless and hiding from an abusive brother who would have him believe family trumps all.

When Claire’s parents find out about Foster’s homelessness, they offer him a home along with their hearts. But even picture-perfect families like Claire’s can harbor an ugly side, especially in the aftermath of Opa’s death. When someone close to Claire spills Foster’s secret, they’re both forced to choose between love and familial obligation. If Claire can’t break through long-held beliefs and prove family is more than shared DNA, she could permanently lose Foster and a chance at the sand contest to honor Opa.

– The Art of Falling in Love, back cover exerpt

Far too often, trends in Romance focus on “The Billionaire” this and that. Kudos to Haleigh Wenger for providing us readers with a hero who forces the reader to explore the novel with both heart and conscious. I especially appreciated her vivid, descriptive writing, empathetic character development, and a great story that didn’t shy away from uncomfortable subjects – juvenile homelessness, sibling rivalry/betrayal, and coping with life after a devastating event. (On a personal note, it was also wonderful to reconnect with familiar areas in Florida.)

Preorder The Art of Falling in Love and take this book with you on a day at the beach for an even more awesome experience. You’ll swear that Claire and Foster are somewhere nearby!

Sending Love and Light to all of you.
Luck of the Irish, Holiday Heartbeats #3, is now available for preorder.

The first chapter of Luck of the Irish (Holiday Heartbeats #3) is available for free on Wattpad. Read it here.

©Atina Atwood 2019 Exploring Love and Life, One Word At A Time.™

– Atina Atwood is a southern girl who moved from Europe to the West Coast. A former university professor in Germany and California, Atina stepped away from Academia to focus on her miracle child, life, love, food, quilting, and of course, Romance. She is the author of the Holiday Heartbeats series. Follow her on Twitter and Pinterest for more, and sign up for Atina’s newsletter here.

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