Auden has spent her whole life preparing academically for the future. Her parents are divorced and her brother tends to flit through life with no plan in mind, something his parents admire about him. From Auden they expect perfection and for her to be a mature adult who will do whatever they want her to do. When her brother sends her a graduation gift of a picture frame with a picture of himself inside and the words Best of Times across the top, Auden realizes she hasn't had any best of times. She decides to go visit her father, step-mother Heidi, and newborn half-sister Thisbe at their beach house in the hopes of having a fun summer. She comes into the situation feeling like she is superior to everyone, but as days go on, she realizes she has never truly lived. She meets Eli who is trying to cope with the death of his best friend and he teaches her how to be a child and how to create the best of times that she has missed. Along the way, she realizes life is not always serious and you have to risk failing to truly live.
I loved the family dynamics in the book and the various friendships in the book. The girls who work for Heidi are great and are very accepting of Auden. I love how the book revolves around the shops, particularly the Gas/Gro, and how the group makes their snack purchasing decisions. This would be the perfect summer read and it was still good as a winter read.
Favorite Character: I loved Maggie, who becomes Auden's best friend by the end of the book. Maggie is fearless, but loving. She is smart, but also able to talk endlessly about fashion. Like Auden, you judge her one way at the beginning of the story, but like Auden, you realize who she really is by the end of the book.
Favorite Quotes: "You're supposed to fail sometimes. It's a required part of the human existence."
"Failing sucks. But it's better than the alternative. Which is? Not even trying."
I really enjoyed this story! It was cute, but in certain ways also deep. 4.5 cups of cocoa!