Young Adult - Coming of Age
458 Pages
Reviewed on 07/19/2017
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Leo Ladia has been writing as a hobby for the last thirteen years of his life. It is only recently that he decided to pursue writing as a career so that he can share his stories with others. Leo moved to Sydney, Australia in 1992 and has lived there ever since. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from Macquarie University and works as a support worker for the mental health community. He often uses his academic background to help him create the myriad of understandable and relatable characters for his stories. Lakeside is his first book. He is currently writing a new series.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers' Favorite

Lakeside by Leo Ladia is the story of two teenagers from opposite sides of the high school hierarchy, but there is something about them that draws them to each other. The story is set in Australia where Rylie Hillcrest and Matthew Banks are both at the same high school, yet they could not be more different. Rylie is the most popular student in the school while Matthew is the school outcast. They don’t get along and they are known as each other’s nemesis.

However, one night everything changes for both of them. When Rylie has an accident that causes her to lose her memory, she feels that there is something about Matthew that she is missing. There is something about this 18-year-old that calls to her. Even though everyone tells her that she and him don’t get along, she knows that she has to find out the truth for herself. She gets flashes of memories about him, with him, that she cannot ignore. When she confronts Matthew about them, she finally finds out the truth about their relationship. But can she trust him after everyone warns her about Matthew?

What I really loved about Lakeside is the way the characters were portrayed and how they developed. These could be real people because their emotions were real and so were their actions. I loved Matthew; his angst was shown in a very realistic manner. Rylie and Matthew made the story very believable and enjoyable. I loved the scenes where these two were together; they created a spark that was undeniable and unavoidable. I loved them and I loved this novel! Brilliant, sweet and very entertaining.

Liz Konkel

Lakeside by Leo Ladia is a coming of age story about teenagers Matthew Banks and Rylie Hillcrest, who have a long standing rivalry. After an accident, popular student Rylie is left without the memory of the last few years. As her friends and boyfriend tell her about who she's supposed to be and her rivalry with outcast Matthew, something feels off. The flashes she recalls of this rivalry and what she's told are contradicting so she goes to the only person who can help her learn the truth: Matthew. As he tells her their history, she learns about the deeper connection between them, along with some startling family truths.

Leo Ladia writes honest portrayals of friendships, how they change from childhood to teens as everyone grows up and changes. Friendship is the central focus as Matthew and Rylie turn toward each other for advice and comfort, though Ladia explores many dynamics as new friends are made and old ones are lost. Ladia incorporates flashbacks as Matthew reveals their friendship, telling her stories of dealing with bullies, changing relationships, and grieving through loss, both death and divorce. This isn't the only relationship that has a significant impact on Matthew. His friendship with Lucas has a slow progression, but helps Matthew find himself and gives him the courage to stand up for someone else. The two bike scenes between them are emotionally charged for different reasons, but both are turning points for Matthew and stood out to me the most. Lakeside is a coming of age story about family, love, and friendship, dealing with serious topics of divorce, abuse, bullying, violence, and love.

Samantha Dewitt (Rivera)

Matthew is still reeling from the tragedy that completely turned his (albeit already pretty messed up) life upside down when he first meets Rylie, but neither of them can imagine what is going to come out of that brief meeting. But when their senior year starts and Rylie loses her memories of the past four years, could it mean something entirely different for the two of them? It looks like Rylie is more interested in spending time with Matthew than she is with her other friends while she’s recovering, but why would she care what her arch-enemy has to say? Unless there’s something else going on. Something that the two of them have been hiding, even from themselves, for the past four years in Lakeside by Leo Ladia.

There is always something going on behind the scenes and under the surface of any relationship and that’s true with Matthew and Rylie, but the secrets they’re hiding are actually entirely different from what anyone would expect. This story is most definitely a romance and a bit of a mystery rolled into one, but with plenty to keep you interested throughout. The drama of high school is only intensified when it comes to Lakeside, and you’ll find yourself thrown into the stories of more than just Rylie and Matthew, but Lucas, Lily, Evan and more, to find the answers to all of the questions that are plaguing each of them. There’s no shortage of drama going on in this school, but relationships are definitely going to be tested and some just won’t make it in Lakeside.

Jessyca Garcia

“Surrender is not an option until you’re satisfied.” I really enjoyed Lakeside by Leo Ladia. High school students Matthew Banks and Rylie Hillcrest are arch-enemies. They look to be total opposites and never seem to get along. Matthew is an outcast, while Rylie is the school sweetheart. When Rylie has an accident that causes her to lose some of her memories, she looks to Matthew for help.

Ladia has won a fan in me. I REALLY liked Lakeside. The characters are complex and are all going through their own personal battles. Matthew and Rylie’s connection with each other was vibrating off the pages. I did not want to believe that they were truly enemies. My only complaint is that the characters did not seem like high school students. They were much too mature, although they did go through some things that made them grow up fast. Ladia had Matthew slowly reveal his history with Rylie, but at the same time mixed in past and present throughout the story.

The story was really interesting and held my attention. I could not wait for Matthew to reveal everything. However, Ladia also threw some twists into the plot. I never knew the way things were going to turn out. I thought the ending of the book was perfect. I was left satisfied with all of the characters’ decisions and a little sad that the story had come to an end. I hope that Ladia continues to write more stories like this one. Few authors can leave a reader completely satisfied at the end. I consider that a rare gift. If you enjoy coming-of-age stories, then this is one you should read!

Arya Fomonyuy

Lakeside by Leo Ladia is an intelligently plotted coming-of-age story with strong characters. Set in Lakeside, Australia, this novel follows two compelling characters, Matthew Banks and Rylie Hillcrest. Everyone knows that the outcast, Matthew, is far from having anything like a friendship with Rylie. Everyone knows they hate each other, but why? When Rylie has a near fatal accident that causes her loss of memory, she has to learn anew that who Matthew really is and what she thinks of him is quite different from the person her friends and family say he is. Her occasional flashes of memories are not helping and a time does come when she decides to confront Matthew to find out the truth. It’s for the reader to discover the exciting twist in this story.

Leo Ladia’s Lakeside is a captivating story with characters that readers will love to follow. I enjoyed the short chapters that leave the reader with unanswered questions, making them turn to the next chapter. For instance, the prologue moves very fast, and the author describes a dramatic scene, an accident, leaving the reader with no choice but to turn the page with the words: “Horns blared. Tires screeched. With a final breath, he braced himself for the impact.” The conflict is well-explored and I loved the well-crafted dialogues, the vivid setting, and the emotional and psychology depth of the characters. I enjoyed the way the author explored the world of young adults and couldn’t help but think about the long-gone years when I was a student. This is an interesting and entertaining story, deftly balanced, a story with a strong conflict and a satisfying denouement.

Viga Boland

Lakeside, a first novel by Leo Ladia, is an engaging read for young teens of all ages, and possibly also for their parents. Why? Because it nails so many of the issues confronting teens as they transition from young teens to adults throughout their school years. Ladia, who has a degree in psychology and works as a support worker for the mental health community, is obviously very familiar with the issues he raises in Lakeside, like peer pressure, insecurity, shame, bullying, parental control, domestic violence and the effects of divorce on vulnerable teens. Young readers will relate to so much of what the teenagers in Lakeside experience while their parents will recall similar situations when they were growing up, but see it more in terms of the issues teens face today.

The story is focused primarily on two young people, Rylie Hillcrest and Matthew Banks, who tolerate each other because they have to. As the plot unfolds and they are brought together in ways neither wanted, they begin to discover just how much they have in common. But always interfering with that process of discovery is Rylie’s controlling boyfriend, Evan, along with Rylie’s judgmental mother, and Matthew’s own fear of getting close to another person after the tragic loss of his beloved mother in the opening chapter of the book. So these two youngsters hide their pain from everyone, including each other, as much as possible, and are helped in doing so by the status divisions that occur between teens attending the same school.

There’s a lot of unpleasant bullying, rank pulling, peer pressure and fighting in Lakeside, where being part of the “in crowd” has everything to do with appearances and ignorance. There’s also a lot of parents who need a swift kick in the butt for what they ram into their children’s heads while they are busy creating carbon copies of their imperfect selves. Through the plot, the characters, and the excellent use of dialogue, the author gives older readers plenty to think about in terms of their own lives and how they are raising their own children. As for the teens who will read Lakeside, they will relate to every twist, turn and emotion the kids in this story experience. Well done, Leo Ladia.