By Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Available now from Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Macmillan)
I wrote earlier this year about how much I love stories based on Peter Pan. Therefore, I was quite excited to see that Alyssa B. Sheinmel's newest book was a modern retelling. In SECOND STAR, the Lost Boys are surfers, Hook is a drug dealer, and Wendy is searching for her twin brothers. They went out in search of a wave and never came home.
SECOND STAR is not a very straightforward contemporary. It is dreamy, possibly made up entirely by Wendy as she struggles to cope with her brothers' disappearance and apparent deaths. She stumbles onto the cove where Pete lives almost by accident after seeing a picture of it. The dreaminess only increases once drugs become involved. (Wendy doesn't just take the known-to-be-highly-addictive drug, but things happen.) I didn't find the "fairy dust" sequences entirely convincing. It is very over the top in a Reefer Madness way, and seems like possibly the least fun drug ever.
The two romances were more convincing. Wendy is romanced by both Pete and Jas (not always at the same time). She's attracted to both charismatic boys, but can't trust either. Pete teaches her to surf and seems sweet, but he has the possessive Belle hanging around and keeps secrets. Jas seems sweet and caring, but he's a drug dealer, which is a huge negative in the people-to-get-involved-with column. It doesn't hurt their pursuit that Wendy is feeling vulnerable.
The ending of SECOND STAR is quite ambiguous, fitting the imaginative mood of the novel. I know what I think happened, but I like that it is open to interpretation. This is not a straightforward retelling of Peter Pan with surfers, which is for the best. Sheinmel takes the basic framework and throws in a friendship betrayed and a girl who just wants her family back. She also ages up the material - SECOND STAR is definitely on the older end of YA.
I personally didn't love SECOND STAR, but it is a compelling beach read.