Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Book Review: Ocean Beach by Wendy Wax

A bit about the book: Five women, one baby, and a broken-down mansion that's seen better days. Couple that with difficult living conditions and a bare-bones budget, and you still have nothing these women haven't dealt with before. After all of them fell on hard times last year, the group worked together to restore Bella Flora, a falling-down beach house near Tampa, Florida. The success of that restoration project has led to a new career path for them all -- television stars.

However, there's just one tiny problem. The network hasn't committed quite yet, and none of them have anything to fall back on. Ocean Beach, Wendy Wax's follow-up to last summer's Ten Beach Road, follows Avery, Deidre, Madeline, Kyra, and Nikki as they make one last attempt at get back on their feet financially. There are twists at every turn of the page, starting with the fact that Lifetime wants their show to be more reality-based and less restoration project.

With a camera crew living on-site and following their every move, twenty-four hours a day, the women have a bit more to deal with than they originally bargained for. Couple that with the innate problems of restoring a home built decades ago, and Wax has stirred up a recipe for disaster -- and a truly enjoyable novel.

Why you want to read it: Even without reading Ten Beach Road, the four characters in Ocean Beach are real, and really fun to read. Their problems are real people's issues, even if they differ a bit from those we all face (a Brad-Pitt-like movie star is involved). Avery and Deirdre have a difficult mother-daughter relationship. Kyra's baby Dustin is the result of a complicated relationship with an absent father. Madeline wants to be close to her daughter and grandson, but she has her own marriage issues with Kyra's father to deal with, as well. And Nikki lives under the shadow of her brother's Bernie Madoff-like crimes, causing her to be hated by much of the American population.

In addition to the winning characters and interesting conflicts, Wax also manages to paint Miami and South Beach in a flattering light. The setting couldn't be more perfect for a summer read. There are sunset toasts overlooking the ocean, nights out at beachside restaurants, and jogs along Miami's beautiful beaches.

Although many complaints are made about reality shows taking over our televisions, let's be honest. Most of us watch at least one -- some of us multiple -- reality shows. Taking a look inside the lives of strangers is fascinating much of the time. Wax's inclusion of the reality show slant makes Ocean Beach a timely, interesting novel we can all relate to in this entertainment climate.

The bottom line: While Ocean Beach won't be up for a Pulitzer, Nobel, or other literary prize, it's the perfect chick lit read for summertime. Sometimes books are great books for their entertainment value alone; they don't all have to strive to be extraordinarily "literary." Ocean Beach is highly entertaining, as a book with realistic female characters and a fun and engaging plot. It's the perfect summer paperback to tuck into your beach bag or download for your Kindle. Highly recommended.

About the author: Wendy Wax is the author of eight previous novels. She is from Florida and currently lives in Atlanta. Suffice it to say she knows her way around the south! To learn more about her and her writing, you can visit her website, add her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.


  1. Very excited that OCEAN BEACH is now out in the world. And so glad you enjoyed it! Thanks so much!

    Wendy W.

    1. It is a fabulous summer read! Perfect for the beach (or dreaming of the beach). You are so welcome!

  2. I'm not a reality TV show fan at all, but I actually really enjoyed that element of this book--I loved the renovation scenes far more than I thought I would. Perhaps because I love Art Deco architecture so much!



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