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Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite
Leslie Liautaud's Black Bear Lake follows the story of a man haunted by past regrets. In the present day, Adam Craig's tumultuous marriage hits a new low after his wife leaves him because of his reluctance to have children. Seeking answers, Adam travels to Black Bear Lake in Wisconsin, where he last visited his grandparents' cabin on that fateful summer twenty-five years ago. He goes down memory lane, remembering his fourteen-year-old self who joined his best friend and cousin, Dannie, alongside other family members to spend a beautiful summer together. However, this summer was not the typical family get-together as Adam's mother was dying of cancer, whereas Dannie found herself lost because of her parents' broken marriage. Meanwhile, Adam has his first brush with love. But a devastating tragedy will change his life forever.
Bittersweet and heartbreakingly captivating, Black Bear Lake is a coming-of-age tale unlike any other. Leslie Liautaud's novel is doused in family drama, friendship, and romance, seamlessly stitched together in an emotionally enthralling narrative that has its hooks in you from start to finish. Liautaud's characters are lively and distinct, with personalities that leap off the pages. Adam's family dynamics differ from person to person and have layers that make for several engrossing plot threads. I found the relationship between Adam and Dannie very endearing, and it felt like the story's heartbeat. The tragic ending will leave readers a bit sad, but it makes the story all the more impactful. In conclusion, Black Bear Lake is a brilliant slice-of-life tale that takes you back to a nostalgic era of adolescence, innocence, and family get-togethers. Highly recommended.