The Lifeguard by Deborah Blumenthal

I just finished The Lifeguard by Deborah Blumenthal, another book provided by NetGalley. I finished the 291 page book in two days!

I have to say, the reason why I read this book so quickly is that I just couldn’t put it down. The Lifeguard is teen fiction for age 13 and up (so NetGalley says) and even though I’m a bit older than 13, I thoroughly enjoyed this read.

Sirena is a 16-going-on-17-year-old who’s parents are in the middle of a divorce back home in Texas. Sirena has been shipped off to her Aunt Ellie’s house in Rhode Island for the summer, where she finds solace in the ocean. She is a painter and spends many days just gazing into the ocean, trying to make sense of her feelings about her changing world. Her best friend Marissa is away at summer camp and they can only write letters to communicate. Sirena befriends an elderly man named Antonio, who is also a painter. He is originally from Brazil and was a shaman. Sirena also deals with a screeching spirit that lives in Aunt Ellie’s attic and only wails during storms.

One day on the beach, Sirena notices the lifeguard on duty. Enter teenage fascination with hot boys. Pilot, the lifeguard, is blond, buff, and seemingly unreachable. She becomes obsessed with him and how mysterious he is – they never seem to have a full conversation because Pilot always pulls away. Sirena then begins volunteering at the local hospital where Pilot is an EMT tech. One day she witnesses him heal a young boy on the verge of death and confronts him, but Pilot doesn’t reveal a thing.

Frustrated by Pilot’s indifference towards her, Sirena swims out one day during a strong riptide. It’s no mystery that she is pulled underwater, but there is no way to explain how she is then stung by a sting ray, which are not creatures native to Rhode Island. Pilot saves her and is with her in the hospital, eventually healing her leg to prevent amputation. After this encounter, Sirena forces the truth from Pilot about his mysterious ability to be in the right place at the right time to save people and his ability to heal those who seem to have no hope. Sirena also visits Antonio again, and learns that Pilot is his grandson.

Are you intrigued? I was 🙂

I won’t give anything away – I want you to discover this book on your own. But after the accident, the relationship between Sirena and Pilot complicates and deepens, the mystery of the ghost is revealed, and a miracle occurs for Sirena in the face of great sorrow.

It’s also interesting to note the names of the two main characters – Sirena and Pilot. What do you think of the significance of these names?

All in all, this was a great book. Blumenthal is able to capture the impatience of a teenage girl’s spirit with quick, original phrases. We get to watch Sirena mature over the course of the summer and come to terms with herself and her changing family. Although there is a small degree of the supernatural in this book, it’s a refreshing change from the vampires and werewolves that dominate teen fiction. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys young adult fiction, beach reads, or anyone who wants to rediscover how teenagers experience life and love.

Can’t wait to read my next book, Theft: A Love Story by Peter Carey. I bought it at the Strand in New York City!


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