This is the first in a series, which I don't think I want to follow. It's also the last of my forays into the word of this author. She's not for me. This story isn't awfully bad, but it isn't good, either. It was almost painfully slow-moving and I never felt so drawn-in that I wanted to pursue it beyond one volume. I didn't even want to pursue it to the end of this volume so it was a DNF for me.
This for me is the problem with series: they're too drawn-out. They're derivative, and unimaginative and uninventive precisely because they're really the same story over again, or the same characters stretched too thin to have any depth to them. The first volume is always nothing more than a profoundly unsatisfying prologue. I don't do prologues (or introductions, or prefaces or author's notes). Tell it in the story, start it in chapter one, continue it in one volume until it ends - otherwise what reason is there for me to really don't care about it? LOL!
There were two major problems with this, and the first was the weak female characters. I don't mind a weak character who starts out weak and grows strong, or even a weak one who stays weak if you can tell me a good story about the reasons for it, but this one seemed to revel in weak women who desperately needed men to save them and that's never a good thing.
The story begins with Kate Pheris waking-up no worse-for-wear after a year-long sleep (yes, I know, but this is supposedly magical realism, which is a nonsensical term, but I decided to let that one slide - maybe it was just a metaphor). The sleep was brought on by the death of her husband, who seems to get not a word spoken about him after this. We learn really nothing of what happened to him, and Kate and her daughter Devin seem completely unmoved by the loss, other than the year-long sleep (or metaphor). What happened to Devin during this time, again is undetailed, but she seems to be so perfectly well-adjusted that it reads like she never knew her father or cared nothing for him. This part is what I call "magical unrealism"!
That aside, the story was, as I said, slow and ultimately uninteresting - hence my lack of any compulsion to pursue this series. For me the second biggest problem with a book like this is that something, in this case the declining Lost Lake motel, which is owned by Kate's aunt Eby Pim, is used as a clunky metaphor for a host of declining lives or relationships, and as the hotel is resurrected, as you know it inevitably will be, so are the relationships and lives. It's too trite. The Newbery people (or some other medal peddlers) might think this is wonderful, but I have zero respect for Newbery award winners, and refuse to read them. I'm at the point where I'm actually hoping to win a Newbery award just so I can turn it down!
So the story, while not bad for mindless listening, really offered nothing of substance. It's like eating a fluffy desert before your main meal and then realizing there is nothing else - that was your lunch! It's not at all filling and can only lead to dissatisfaction in the end, so I cannot recommend it.