Head On Backwards, Chest Full of Sand by Sandy Day (Review)
Rating: 5/5 Link to purchase: Amazon
A Sandy Day novel a day keeps the doctor away, or so goes the phrase I just coined. When reading into romance novels, my opinion generally falls into two camps. The first is that the story is long winded, the characters bland or the romance being infantile or just not believable, from a realistic standpoint. The second is feeling that the story is not paced very well, the romance between the protagonist and his/her muse being developed at such a rapid pace as to leave no room for genuine feelings, awkwardness or love to simmer and bloom.
Thankfully, ‘Head On Backwards, Chest Full of Sand’ by Sandy Day does not fall into any one of those camps. It instead falls into a newly created category in my mind, one being a story that’s well paced, a protagonist with a believable crush on her muse and amusing yet well-developed side characters that will keep you glued to the pages for hours on end.
Peak Puppy Love
The feelings that Libby had for Kane was possibly the most realistic aspect of this novel. We find our protagonist in the throes of unrequited, puppy love shared with a good-looking lad, who doesn’t share the same intense sentiment as Libby does with Kane. Sandy did a great job in slowly revealing just how in love Libby is with Kane, and just how much this unrequited love is doomed to fail in the end.
By the end of the novel, I was permanently in Libby‘s camp, surprising myself by feeling a great sense of hatred and sincerely despising the way Kane treated Libby’s love like it’s nothing special. That’s when I realised that the novel does get it’s readers invested in Libby’s emotions, thoughts and day dreams about her life with Kane and you feel her disappointment, hurt and anger when those dreams turn to dust, this emotional roller coaster in which the reader is part of the journey being the hallmark of a well-written relationship between the protagonist and her muse.
Donna and Hellah Are Gold
In my opinion, side characters are the least well-rounded characters found in romance novels. In most books, there is usually a snarky sidekick that does all the monologuing for the reader’s sake, is the wingman or wingwoman for a guy or girl that the protagonist is chasing after, or is merely an afterthought after the first few chapters of the novel.
I’m happy to say that this is not the case with this novel. Most, if not all, the side characters here have a fully developed personality, where their strengths and weaknesses are fully explored and fleshed out as well as having their own mini-arcs as the novels progress. Both Hellah and Donna are ideal companions to Libby throughout her stay in Cape Breton, and it was Donna’s arc that struck me the most. It was so subtly but so well done that readers will be in for a surprise when they realise her sudden change of fortunes from single to meeting another woman as a serious friend or possible romantic partner.
It was a privilege to not only be on this journey to discovering true love with Libby but to also accompany Donna, Hellah and many of the other excellently written side characters in this novel as they discover more about Libby, and themselves.
Cape Breton is beautiful
The descriptions in this novel is spot on. Like, seriously. The way Sandy describes Cape Breton had me itching all weekend to throw caution to the wind and book the next flight to Nova Scotia to see if it is as striking and beautiful as she describes it in her novel. The natural landscape of Cape Breton, perfectly depicted in the novel, sets a relaxing tone and manages to keep the tension by allowing Libby’s growing frustration about Kane to simmer underneath, the scenery and community of Cape Breton welcome breaks from Libby’s thoughts and despairs.
Every detail of Cape Breton was captured perfectly within the confines of the novel, from Donna’s house to the lighthouse by the sea. It grounded the novel in reality, which made me more focused and invested in what was happening to Libby, giving her emotional agony the anchor to realism that it needed. Overall, Sandy did a great job at detailing the important aspects of Cape Breton, that played a subtle but defining role in Libby’s journey in her puppy love with Kane, backed up by a wonderful cast of side characters. This novel is a win for me and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a breezy romantic read this Valentines weekend.