In the last weeks of the summer before senior year, a Hispanic Long Island teenage boy sees an athletic, long-legged blonde in the grocery store and is mesmerized. She challenges him to a tennis match—loser buys pizza—and a romance is born. This tale of a teenage love affair fully transports the reader to 1980’s Long Island and into the mind of a young man knocked head over heels by first love. The writing spares no details—although with so much focus on the main character’s erections, I often wished it would (“Boing! Houston, we have lift-off!”)—and chronicles with loving detail each hour of the days the couple spends together.
Their story is sweet, funny, and relatable, filled with the joys of learning the little quirks about a new person you love. The main character has to balance his new sweetheart, B, with his long-time best friends Jean-Paul and Hannah, and a jealous ex-boyfriend further complicates what the two lovebirds wish was a vacuum to themselves. Because the bulk of the book is a flashback, the reader knows that the main character doesn’t end up marrying B, but the reason why is a revelation. LAST EXIT TO MONTAUK is a nostalgia-filled snapshot of a lost time.
The details can become tedious—the first third of the book spans barely three days—and exacting: “He invited her in, and she closed her umbrella and placed it against the wall. They stood in the foyer as I reached the bottom of the stairs.” But the writer is evoking a mood, and in this the book succeeds: as homage to teenage love, and as a living memory of love lost.
They say you never forget your first love, and the romance recounted in LAST EXIT TO MONTAUK is one well worth remembering.
~Danielle Bukowski for Indie Reader