Elouise (Lou) Parker is determined to have the absolute best, most impossibly epic summer of her life. There are just a few things standing in her way: She’s landed a job at Magic Castle Playland . . . as a giant dancing hot dog. Her crush, the dreamy Diving Pirate Nick, already has a girlfriend, who is literally the Princess of the park. But Lou’s never liked anyone, guy or otherwise, this much before, and now she wants a chance at her own happily ever after. Her best friend, Seeley, the carousel operator, who’s always been up for anything, suddenly isn’t when it comes to Lou’s quest to set her up with the perfect girl or Lou’s scheme to get close to Nick. And it turns out that this will be their last summer at Magic Castle Playland–ever–unless she can find a way to stop it from closing. Jennifer Dugan’s sparkling debut coming-of-age queer romance stars a princess, a pirate, a hot dog, and a carousel operator who find love–and themselves–in unexpected people and unforgettable places.
I knew this was going to be queer, a little bit weird, with a theme of finding yourself and figuring out life. That all sounds like something that I would enjoy a lot and I knew it would be interested to see how it all came together!
I was nervous in the beginning of the book for a bit. I had heard that it was going to be a queer love story and it’s on the back of the book that it’s a queer romance, but it’s not set up like that at all. I was nervous that I was going to get queerbaited and I was going to be really mad. BUT DON’T WORRY IT’S ALRIGHT THERE’S A F/F ROMANCE AND IT’S GREAT. So don’t be alarmed in the beginning haha.
Anyway, this book is messy and I feel like it portrays the reality of a 16 year old dealing with loss and life and love. While I didn’t connect with Elouise on a super deep level, I did enjoy her overall teenagerness and her tendency to leap into things without really thinking them through or not really knowing that they outcome out be less than positive. I liked that Lou wasn’t perfect and I younger teen me would have loved to see a teen character who is flawed like she is.
I had a hard time feeling the emotional side of things deeply. Development wasn’t really there for me sometimes. I was feeling kinda “huh” when Lou was deeply upset about something. Sometimes it just wasn’t there for me. But, by the end of the book, the emotional pieces did start to click for me and Lou’s journey and her feelings became clearer for me.
The love story was one of my favorite tropes. I don’t want to say what it is, since I feel like it’s a little spoilery, but I’ll just say that it is fantastic! I think it could have used a little more foreshadowing and development instead of kinda popping up out of the blue, but I still liked how everything played out! And I would read a companion novel about the main couple or one of the side characters even!
I didn’t think I would, but I really did enjoy Magic Castle Playland and all of it’s employees. I enjoyed seeing a character who’s a teen and who acts like a teen. I liked her romantic arc and I liked her emotional arc. This book shows the reality of what it’s like to be emotional and be confused and not really know what to do about things. And sometimes you make the wrong decisions. But Lou wants to learn and she wants to be better. And I really like that about her.
Thank you for reading!