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*I received this copy in exchange for an honest review*
What is it about?
Jamie has been dreaming of this summer forever: of road trips and intensive art camps, of meeting cute boys with her best friend Jazz. What she didn’t count on was the car accident.
Exiled away from her family as her mother slowly learns to walk again, Jamie is sent to Provence and trapped in an isolated home with the French grandmother she has never met, the guilt of having almost killed her parents, and no Wi-Fi. Enough to drive a girl mad. That is, until, she finds an old letter from her father, the starting point in a treasure hunt that spans across cities and time itself. Somehow, she knows that the treasure is the key to putting her shattered family back together and that whatever lies at the end has the power to fix everything.
Armed only with a high-school-level of French and a map of train lines, she must enlist the aid of Valentin, a handsome local who’s willing to translate. To save her family, she has castle ruins to find and sea cliffs to climb; falling for her translator wasn’t part of her plan… (goodreads)
Book: Aix marks the Spot | Author: S.E. Anderson | Publisher: Seabreeze Books | Release Date: 16th June 2020 | Pages: 380 | TW: alcohol, car crash
What did I think?
Oh, this book. I feel so much but at the same time I don’t know how to feel. My emotions are a mess right now. I’m just so torn because I loved some parts of this story and didn’t like others. It’s like there is no middle path here. But let’s start with what I loved, shall we?
Well, Aix marks the Spot is an ode to Provence. It somehow manages to capture the essence of the region in a book and transport you there. I could hear the cicadas, could see the dry and hot but beautiful landscape, smell the lavender. Provence is one of my favourite regions on this planet and right now I want nothing more than to pack my stuff and go there. This book made me miss it so incredibly much my heart was ready to combust with longing. The descriptions of the villages and cities and nature were what I loved most in Aix marks the Spot. They were spot on (ha!). You could close your eyes and see it all before you. Taste the croissant on your tongue, smell the rain on the hot asphalt of a parking lot. I don’t know what to say. I just love Provence so much and this story made all the memories and feelings bubbling up. The magic of this region is on every single page.
Besides the setting I thought the plot was quite cute. Jamie and Valentin going on this treasure hunt and rediscovering Jamie’s parents’ past letter by letter while Jamie and Valentin grow closer. I’d definitely read an entire novel about how the parents got to know each other and fell in love. From what I could gather in those letters, it must have been the most beautiful romance.
I also really liked Valentin. He’s warm and sweet and helpful, always nice and basically the equivalent of a cinnamon roll. To be honest, no matter what argument they had in the book, I somehow always took Valentin’s side.
Now, Jamie on the other hand? I did not like her much. And here lie all the problems I had with this book. I’m a very character focused reader and when I don’t like the protagonist it might drag down the whole reading experience for me. Unfortunately, this was the case here. Jamie is just so infuriating. She doesn’t really think about her actions and how they affect others. She needs to do things and she needs to do them now and needs to do them her way. Jamie doesn’t really listen to subtle (or not so subtle) hints and accuses people of acting a certain way but she herself is acting the exact same way and while I could understand some of those things, I was mostly just annoyed. This got better towards the end when she finally starts to reflect her actions. But it was such a short part of the book where I finally found her to be okay.
Generally, the ending was just so short and fast? I felt like I was still in the middle of the story and then it suddenly ended and left me wanting more. Especially when it comes to Valentin’s character. There was some stuff with his dad that never got explained and I wished there would have been more of that. I just wish the ending would have been longer and more detailed. While I’m at it: I would have loved this book so much more if the characters were described like the country was. My love for Provence was unburied and rekindled but the characters fell flat at some parts and I’d like to have as much detail and emotions in the characters as there were in Provence.
That said, this book is perfect for you if you love Provence or would like to go there. It will get you there instantly, even if it’s only in your mind.