Welcome to my stop for Carol Grace Stratton’s novel Lake Surrender! Each day of the tour, be sure to follow #LakeSurrenderTour to see the new stops. I finished the book today, because I’m unorganised, and here’s what I thought…
Quicker than you can say “downsized, unemployed, and divorced,” Ally Cervantes finds herself with the Pacific Ocean in her rearview mirror as she and her two children head to Lake Surrender in rural Northern Michigan to live with her aunt. The dry hills of California are a metaphor for her empty soul, but she can’t afford to wallow in self-pity with an autistic son who can’t make eye contact and a precocious twelve-year-old daughter counting on her to get it together.
With no other available jobs, Ally steps through the only open door for employment, working as head cook at a dilapidated Christian camp. Problem is, she doesn’t cook and doesn’t like religious fanatics.
But despite everything, she finds herself strangely hopeful as she learns her journey ends where the lake begins.
My (Honest) Thoughts On The Book
I really enjoyed this book, despite it being a bit predictable. When Ally meets a man in a religious camp, I feel like you can see where it’s going. It’s a love story we’ve read a hundred times. But the camp setting, the divorce, and her son with autism all made this story unique.
Benjie was probably my most favourite aspect of the story. He’s a kid with autism, and a lot of Ally’s story centres around him. I volunteer with similar kids at school, and it’s really interesting to see how a kid like him is portrayed in a book. I think they did a pretty good job, and I really appreciate that! Yes, maybe his ending was a bit sugar coated, but the rest of his story was real and painful, and I think that’s important. He wasn’t a major part of the story, but he was there, so yay! Benjie was the reason Ally got her job at camp, and part of the reason she was divorced in the first place, so he was important to starting her whole story off. He was also adorable, which is a plus.
The religion thing was very well done too. It wasn’t shoved in our faces, I didn’t feel, but it was clear it was important to Ally and the rest of the people at camp. Yes, it helped her in the end to forgive etc, but it wasn’t vital to her story. She made a lot of choices on her own, and found happiness on her own or with other people, without putting everything down to God. I like a religious story that isn’t condemning me for not being religious, and they’re all too rare, so I appreciated that.
The thing that kind of let it down for me was the romance. It was predictable, like I said before. I saw it coming from the beginning. However, I didn’t expect it to happen in the exact way it did, and it was a very long time coming. The ending had me awwwwing so much! Will was a sweetheart, and him and Ally really needed each other. It was done a little slowly for my taste, and it was definitely something I saw coming from the beginning. It was sweet, I just wish it had been done a little better. A faster romance might have kept me more hooked on the story too, instead of me finding my attention wandering a bit during the book.
I also wish the camp aspect had been explored a little more. It was there, and her job was important to her, but it could have been talked about in a bit more depth. I like a good camp story, and this could have made the book even better. Or, it could have been less important to making her become the person she was by the end. The religion that happened at camp was more important, and while that isn’t a bad thing, I feel like a book that talks about camp so much should have more camp stories. And maybe the drama could have had me more worried – although it did keep the story interesting!
Overall, I’m really happy with this book! It was sweet, and it was different.