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Leaving the Beach: A Woman’s Tale of Music and Mental Illness

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“This is an outstanding novel... Erin is a perfectly flawed heroine.” ~ Semifinalist, 2017 BookLife Prize (10 out of 10 in All 5 Categories Judged)Erin Reardon gets her first kiss from Jim Morrison and loses her virginity to David Bowie. When she flunks out of college, Bruce Springsteen comforts her, and Elvis Costello breaks her heart in Europe. So what happens when she f “This is an outstanding novel... Erin is a perfectly flawed heroine.” ~ Semifinalist, 2017 BookLife Prize (10 out of 10 in All 5 Categories Judged)Erin Reardon gets her first kiss from Jim Morrison and loses her virginity to David Bowie. When she flunks out of college, Bruce Springsteen comforts her, and Elvis Costello breaks her heart in Europe. So what happens when she finally meets a rock star in the flesh?Erin’s a lonely misfit with an eating disorder and a wild imagination. She believes she was born to save—and love—at least one tortured musician, and is willing to risk almost everything to fulfill that destiny.“...gracefully grapples with several important issues, including alcohol and drug addiction, loss, grief and sexuality... There are also many entertaining pop-culture references to offset the weighty themes... An intriguing novel that looks at the ways that people cope with the pain in their lives.” ~ Kirkus ReviewsEVOLVED PUBLISHING PRESENTS a newly revised and edited second edition of a critically-acclaimed, award-winning literary/women’s fiction piece sure to compel you to keep those pages turning. [DRM-Free] Books by Mary Rowen: Leaving the Beach Living by Ear (Coming Fall 2019) It Doesn’t Have To Be That Way (Coming Winter 2019/2020) More Great Women’s Fiction from Evolved Publishing: Participant by Carmen Kemp All the Tomorrows by Nillu Nasser The “Borderline” Series by Taya DeVere Yours to Keep or Throw Aside by E.D. Martin White Chalk by P.K. Tyler Cassia by Lanette Kauten


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“This is an outstanding novel... Erin is a perfectly flawed heroine.” ~ Semifinalist, 2017 BookLife Prize (10 out of 10 in All 5 Categories Judged)Erin Reardon gets her first kiss from Jim Morrison and loses her virginity to David Bowie. When she flunks out of college, Bruce Springsteen comforts her, and Elvis Costello breaks her heart in Europe. So what happens when she f “This is an outstanding novel... Erin is a perfectly flawed heroine.” ~ Semifinalist, 2017 BookLife Prize (10 out of 10 in All 5 Categories Judged)Erin Reardon gets her first kiss from Jim Morrison and loses her virginity to David Bowie. When she flunks out of college, Bruce Springsteen comforts her, and Elvis Costello breaks her heart in Europe. So what happens when she finally meets a rock star in the flesh?Erin’s a lonely misfit with an eating disorder and a wild imagination. She believes she was born to save—and love—at least one tortured musician, and is willing to risk almost everything to fulfill that destiny.“...gracefully grapples with several important issues, including alcohol and drug addiction, loss, grief and sexuality... There are also many entertaining pop-culture references to offset the weighty themes... An intriguing novel that looks at the ways that people cope with the pain in their lives.” ~ Kirkus ReviewsEVOLVED PUBLISHING PRESENTS a newly revised and edited second edition of a critically-acclaimed, award-winning literary/women’s fiction piece sure to compel you to keep those pages turning. [DRM-Free] Books by Mary Rowen: Leaving the Beach Living by Ear (Coming Fall 2019) It Doesn’t Have To Be That Way (Coming Winter 2019/2020) More Great Women’s Fiction from Evolved Publishing: Participant by Carmen Kemp All the Tomorrows by Nillu Nasser The “Borderline” Series by Taya DeVere Yours to Keep or Throw Aside by E.D. Martin White Chalk by P.K. Tyler Cassia by Lanette Kauten

30 review for Leaving the Beach: A Woman’s Tale of Music and Mental Illness

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lynx

    Erin Reardon has never had it easy and living a life of secrets can be a lonely one. Never able to make deep connections to people in real life she has always found comfort in music and the men behind the songs. When Erin has a chance encounter with Lenny Weir, the troubled God of grunge rock, she knows it's fate calling and maybe, just maybe they are meant to save one another. I went into this one expecting a fun groupie/music story and got so much more. Flipping from present to past with each c Erin Reardon has never had it easy and living a life of secrets can be a lonely one. Never able to make deep connections to people in real life she has always found comfort in music and the men behind the songs. When Erin has a chance encounter with Lenny Weir, the troubled God of grunge rock, she knows it's fate calling and maybe, just maybe they are meant to save one another. I went into this one expecting a fun groupie/music story and got so much more. Flipping from present to past with each chapter we unravel Erin's story, from her troubled childhood into her battles with bulimia and her life-long struggle to fit in. Beautifully written, Rowen takes you on an incredibly touching, fun, emotional roller coaster that you never want to put down. Really loved this one. *Thank you Booktrope and Netgalley for this review copy.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Leaving the Beach: A Novel of Obsession and Music by Mary Rowen is a 2014 Bookthrope publication. I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. "She lives her life through the songs she hears on the rock and roll radio, and when a young girl doesn't have many friends that's a really nice place to go." Angie Baby by Helen Reddy Erin Reardon has had an unconventional childhood to say the least. Her parents marriage was a sham and then her father dies in an accident when Erin wa Leaving the Beach: A Novel of Obsession and Music by Mary Rowen is a 2014 Bookthrope publication. I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. "She lives her life through the songs she hears on the rock and roll radio, and when a young girl doesn't have many friends that's a really nice place to go." Angie Baby by Helen Reddy Erin Reardon has had an unconventional childhood to say the least. Her parents marriage was a sham and then her father dies in an accident when Erin was still pretty young. Over time Erin develops Bulemia and her life becomes centered around pop culture and music. With the 1980's drawing to a close, the grunge movement began picking up steam and Erin takes a liking to Lenny Weir, the member of a popular grunge band that the reader will feel a Kurt Cobain comparison to. But, when Lenny dies in a bizarre fashion the rumors of his demise hark back to the old Jim Morrison comparisons. Did he fake his own death? Erin is absolutely knocked off her axis when she learns of Lenny's death. She goes through a series of of musical idols from the aforementioned Jim Morrison and the Doors to David Bowie to a brief flirtation with Bruce Springsteen. She binge drinks, binges and purges, deals with her mother's new boyfriend, a dead end job with a touchy feely boss, and then fate intervenes and on a dark stormy night Erin accepts a ride after her car breaks down and her life changes in ways she could never have imagined. The title of the book gives us a little insight into what to expect but doesn't even scratch the surface. While I have never had an eating disorder, I could relate to Erin in many ways. Having no close ties with anyone she lives in a fantasy world where rock stars are her boyfriends. She's not popular and she has dental issues and acne brought on by her eating disorder, she is lonely and alone except for a very few friends she has met at work. When she meets Luke and the two begin an uneasy relationship, Erin is unstable enough to just dive into things without thinking things through. She is obsessed with the notion that Luke is actually Lenny and she is supposed to save him from his drug addiction. Things of course get out of hand and ironically, it's this adventure that sets Erin on a path to get herself healthy. As an only child that lost a parent at a pivotal age, and being a bit of an oddball myself, I also loved losing myself in music and liked to imagine being a famous singer and hanging out with famous rock stars. For me , this was only a teenage thing and it did not follow me into adulthood like it did with Erin. But, I could understand the bond she felt for the singers and the music and of course I knew all the things she referred to because of the time frame involved. Morrison, Queen, Bowie and The Boss are like old friends. Also, the shock of losing a talented artist to drugs or an accident was something many of this time period could relate to. It was really like you lost a member of your own family. The irony of how things turn out will left me wondering if I should laugh or cry. Poor Erin had deluded herself for so long when the truth hits her it's such a shock she has a hard time coping. Despite all this Erin is able to at least overcome her disorder and she is given an incredible gift and she finally realizes that out of everything in her life this gift was the best thing that ever happened to her. Erin hopefully will be able to finally mature on an emotional level which is harder for some people to pull off. She was a bit sheltered and isolated because she spent a lot of time alone or with only a very few close friends. So, as they say, better late than never. Bulimia is a very serious disorder and requires the care of a doctor and thearpy to overcome. Erin's struggle lasted for years. It was painful to watch her go through the torment she put herself through. Drug addiction and binge drinking were also topics that were addressed. Luke has a drug problem and keeps talking himself out of rehab. For a while Erin drank very heavily but that was a brief phase, however, it was a also a symptom of a bigger issue. Erin's self esteem was also at the heart of the story . Her confidence and self image were very low which made her vulnerable to certain people who prey on young girls just like Erin. But, it seems Erin has more of an impact on people than she would have believed and there were those that cared about her and never forgot her. I thought this book was awesome. Pop culture mixed in with some very heavy issues wouldn't seem like a winning combination, but it was perfect. There really was a time when people looked for deeper meanings in music and it touched lives in a profound way. I knew people that could talk for hours about an album or a singer or guitarist or lyrics. So, Erin's obsessions may seem over the top for some today, but back then it wasn't all that crazy. Yes, Erin was over the top and certainly showed signs of mental instability. However, the book touched on a time when there were a lot of Erin's out there and not just those that became obsessed with rock stars but it was also a time when eating disorders were being addressed in the media for the first time and a lot misfit girls like Erin derived a feeling of control and even comfort from food. We are certainly not the same people today. Album oriented FM radio, transistor radios, albums and even CD's are a thing of the past. So, are profound musical lyrics and soul searing guitarist and lost is the great harmonious groups that could actually carry a tune and play an intrument. So, this story is one of nostalgia, of music, of obsession and self delusion, but also of an awakening and finding what really matters most in life. This is where the author leaves us , on a high note which made everything we endured on our trip with Erin worth it. This one gets 5 stars

  3. 5 out of 5

    Stevie McCoy

    Discover how self-perception can turn your life around in this inspiring story! Everyday there is another person who says to themselves, "Not many other people know what I'm going through. I know what I'm doing is harmful, but it's what gets me to tomorrow." In this touching, dark, realistic story about Erin, a girl who's suffered through loss, self-esteem issues, and an eating disorder she takes on the world one step at a time and through her delusions decides not only to save herself, but also h Discover how self-perception can turn your life around in this inspiring story! Everyday there is another person who says to themselves, "Not many other people know what I'm going through. I know what I'm doing is harmful, but it's what gets me to tomorrow." In this touching, dark, realistic story about Erin, a girl who's suffered through loss, self-esteem issues, and an eating disorder she takes on the world one step at a time and through her delusions decides not only to save herself, but also her life-long love Lenny Weir. This story is full of memorable music moments and how they've shaped her life for better or for worse. It's all about the grunge scene, and you'll be inspired by Erin's transformation from the beginning of the book to the very end. Try saying "no" to this relatable story, you won't regret the quick and gritty read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer S. Brown

    I received an advance copy of "Leaving the Beach" from the author, whom I know. The book is a fast-paced read even though it covers heavy topics. Erin, the protagonist, has dealt with tremendous loss in her life and Rowen explores it honestly and sometimes brutally. Erin is a bulimic and it can be difficult to read the scenes in which she is grappling with this, yet perhaps because they were so difficult, they felt quite real. Erin becomes enmeshed in music and in its lighter moments, "Leaving t I received an advance copy of "Leaving the Beach" from the author, whom I know. The book is a fast-paced read even though it covers heavy topics. Erin, the protagonist, has dealt with tremendous loss in her life and Rowen explores it honestly and sometimes brutally. Erin is a bulimic and it can be difficult to read the scenes in which she is grappling with this, yet perhaps because they were so difficult, they felt quite real. Erin becomes enmeshed in music and in its lighter moments, "Leaving the Beach" is a romp through the music scene of the past few decades. Music is what grounds Erin (and, at times, spins her out of control), and Rowen does an amazing job describing the effect music can have upon the listener. Erin at times is not a likable character--I could have throttled her for some of her decisions--but she is true to herself and I love a book that can create a multi-faceted character such as Erin. The story definitely takes you on a wild ride--and I wasn't always sure where we were headed, which was fun--but the ending is so perfect that the book will linger pleasantly on in your mind. Definitely worth a read.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jen Gilbert

    Wow, this book left an impact. I know very little about what life is like for a functioning gal with an eating disorder. And this book paints a stunning portrait of the heartache and challenge anyone facing this experiences. Mix it with my love of music and not only did I learn quite a bit and experience deep empathy and compassion for anyone who has struggled with their eating habits, but I also loved the descriptions of the music and the life and times of Erin. She is an unlikely character in Wow, this book left an impact. I know very little about what life is like for a functioning gal with an eating disorder. And this book paints a stunning portrait of the heartache and challenge anyone facing this experiences. Mix it with my love of music and not only did I learn quite a bit and experience deep empathy and compassion for anyone who has struggled with their eating habits, but I also loved the descriptions of the music and the life and times of Erin. She is an unlikely character in that she was full of surprises. Rowen writes with clarity and passion about a difficult all be it interesting topic. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys women's fiction and likes some angst and drama in your reading. I couldn't put it down.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Karen Samuelson

    Once I started reading Leaving the Beach, given to me in advance by the publisher, I wanted to keep on reading: a sure sign of an intriguing and evolving story. Rowen doesn't shy away from Erin, her protagonist's gritty struggles and there are many: identity, acceptance, guilt, obsessions, sexuality, and the self-destructive nature of bulimia. Throughout it all, Erin's love for music and musicians is the tie that binds. Interesting for all ages, I can imagine this novel as a wonderful catalyst f Once I started reading Leaving the Beach, given to me in advance by the publisher, I wanted to keep on reading: a sure sign of an intriguing and evolving story. Rowen doesn't shy away from Erin, her protagonist's gritty struggles and there are many: identity, acceptance, guilt, obsessions, sexuality, and the self-destructive nature of bulimia. Throughout it all, Erin's love for music and musicians is the tie that binds. Interesting for all ages, I can imagine this novel as a wonderful catalyst for honest discussions among young adults. As they grow and deal with "sex, drugs, and rock'n roll," this is a chance to slow down and reflect on the themes and how they relate to their own lives. Karen Samuelson

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ann Mangano

    I absolutely loved this book! I started reading Leaving the Beach the minute the publisher, Booktrope, gave me an advanced copy and I could not put it down. The main character’s passage from high school to adulthood and all her hopes, dreams and struggles that accompany that journey is true to heart on so many levels. The twists and turns in the plot keep the reader wanting more!!! Erin felt like a high school friend by the time I reached the end!! Very engaging story line!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Book Club Mom

    The story of Erin Reardon and her search for happiness. Told in the first person and set in the working class town of Winthrop, Massachusetts, readers get to know Erin in alternating time periods—in the 1970s and ‘80s as an awkward teenager and college student, and in the 1990s as a young adult. As a slightly overweight teenager, Erin struggles to fit in, but finds comfort in music, to the point of obsession, as she latches on to a string of rock stars, certain that they are the only ones who un The story of Erin Reardon and her search for happiness. Told in the first person and set in the working class town of Winthrop, Massachusetts, readers get to know Erin in alternating time periods—in the 1970s and ‘80s as an awkward teenager and college student, and in the 1990s as a young adult. As a slightly overweight teenager, Erin struggles to fit in, but finds comfort in music, to the point of obsession, as she latches on to a string of rock stars, certain that they are the only ones who understand her: Jim Morrison, Freddie Mercury, David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen and the fictional grunge rocker, Lenny Weir, Erin’s main obsession. But Erin has major problems. Trouble at home and feelings of guilt and inadequacy lead to an eating disorder, alcohol abuse and a series of bad decisions.Readers will enjoy reliving many classic teen and young adult moments as they relate to rock music, concerts and playing albums over and over. I like how Rowen describes the powerful one-on-one connection that can occur when you listen to music by yourself. Rowen also realistically shows the more painful times of rejection, not fitting in and the lonely moments suffered when everyone else seems to have life figured out. I thoroughly enjoyed this unique and fast read. Erin Reardon is both typical and remarkable, flawed but likable. Readers need to hold on to hope as she makes mistakes. I didn’t see the author’s truly original finish coming, and that made the book an even better read! I was so pleased to receive a message from Mary Rowen, author of Leaving the Beach. She wanted to let readers know that, although her book is currently out of print, newly edited version of the book should be available again in June 2019.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Hazel *Craves the Angst Reviews*

    Find This and Other Reviews At Craves The Angst. I was gifted a copy from Booktrope Publishing in exchange for an honest review. 4.5 Inspiring, Healing Stars! A Poignant, Painful Journey to Self-Discovery and Rebirth! The Review: This was a unique and powerful read for me. Along with being intense and emotional at times it was also genuine and fun! Sometimes good, sometimes heartbreaking, from the beginning, this book is an extraordinary journey as our heroine takes off on an adventure of Find This and Other Reviews At Craves The Angst. I was gifted a copy from Booktrope Publishing in exchange for an honest review. 4.5 Inspiring, Healing Stars! A Poignant, Painful Journey to Self-Discovery and Rebirth! The Review: This was a unique and powerful read for me. Along with being intense and emotional at times it was also genuine and fun! Sometimes good, sometimes heartbreaking, from the beginning, this book is an extraordinary journey as our heroine takes off on an adventure of self-discovery and healing but it also gives us an up close look at her life through pain and passion. Story/Characters... Erin has many sides. Along with being a little out of touch with reality, she’s introverted and compulsive but she can also be sweet and fun. She’s not had the easiest life. She’s endured loss and pain since childhood and her way of coping is severe. Everything from her fathers death to her dead end job has left her reeling and her method of release is binging then tossing as bulimia plays center stage to her life. She never set out to do something so destructive and battling this serious disease has caused more problems than it’s helped but she’s in so much pain, its her way of purging it all. She loses herself in more than one way. We get a very real look at bulimia from the sufferers point of view and the effects it has on her life. It affects Erin physically which only increases her insecurities. Her self-esteem as well as self-worth was in shreds. The graphic images the author paints as she struggles with her disease was stark and grueling to read through and also shed a new light on a subject I didn’t know much about. When Erin’s world gets turned upside down yet again with the death of Lenny, who she’s infatuated with, she strikes out on a mission of truth and a desire to help someone else battle their addiction, which also reflects a mirror on her own issues. I loved the message that if you believe and trust and work towards something better, you can win the battle, allowing others to help and support you, you can overcome. So there’s hope in the end. Along with the insightful view at her eating disorder, we also get a beautiful and woeful story about addiction and obsession as Erin’s passion for music sends us looking for a supposedly dead musician. I loved all the music references in this book. It was both educational and entertaining. This read takes us to two pivotal time periods in the heroines life. In her early childhood years and in the early nineties where grunge rock was the music of choice. Exploring these eras, the author takes us back in time to see a younger Erin as she deals with the horrible hand fate has dealt her and the present as she tries to cope with even more loss and devastation. And sadly, her rock bottom, gets deeper before it’s all done. Erin was completely relatable. She might have lived in her own fantasy world but her pain was real and though, hopefully not to the extremes she endured, we’ve all at some point experience that deep pain we wished we could find a way to pass quickly through. She deals with real issues and her plight really drew me to her. The Wrap Up: With enchanting pros and a heartfelt plot, the author does an incredible job pulling you into the story and when I reached the end, I felt like no time had passed at all. I felt changed and educated. I also really enjoyed all the pop culture references. This was a debut novel for Mary Rowen and she did a fantastic job mixing a light and fun adventure with dark and powerful issues. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next. Rock on!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Terry Tyler

    I read Mary Rowen's other novel, Living By Ear, about a year ago and liked it very much indeed, but hadn't got round to reading this as I knew it centred round a woman's struggle with bulimia, not a subject in which I have much interest. Then I decided to give it a go - and I'm so glad I did. It's nothing like the serious, emotional drama I expected. Yes, of course it centres around this eating disorder, but the story's about so much more; Erin Reardon's bulimia is only one element of her bizarr I read Mary Rowen's other novel, Living By Ear, about a year ago and liked it very much indeed, but hadn't got round to reading this as I knew it centred round a woman's struggle with bulimia, not a subject in which I have much interest. Then I decided to give it a go - and I'm so glad I did. It's nothing like the serious, emotional drama I expected. Yes, of course it centres around this eating disorder, but the story's about so much more; Erin Reardon's bulimia is only one element of her bizarre, chaotic life. Whether it is a symptom or the cause of the all the problems, it may be up to the reader to decide (or maybe Mary Rowen knows best of all). 'A novel of obsession and music' ~ lots of music. The rock stars of my younger days (and yes, I agree, Erin, Station to Station was totally Bowie's best album!). It's about college, loneliness, growing up and feeling fat, ugly, isolated, wanting to impress, sex, delusion and obsession. Lots of obsession, too. The younger Erin lives in a cloud of serious erotomania with an ever changing cast of targets: her friend Colin (who's engaged to her friend Suzanne), rock star Lenny Weir, Jim Morrisson, David Bowie ~ and don't forget Elvis Costello... She tries to blot out her loneliness with music, alcohol, and the endless cycle of junk food bingeing and purging. The books alternates between the past, starting in Erin's mid teens in 1978 then moving onto her college days, and later chapters that take place when she's aged 28-30. Although the subject of the novel is no laughing matter, it's often funny, in a dark sort of way, and there are some brilliant side characters: her boss and casual sex partner Salon Don, ghastly college friend Toni, and her mixed up, lonely mother. I loathe the word 'quirky', but it's the best one I can think of to describe it. It reminds me a bit of Catcher in the Rye, a bit of Alex Garland's The Beach ... I haven't read anything quite like it before, it's very unusual, different, and fabulously well written ~ Mary Rowen has talent oozing from her fingers! Life changes for Erin after Elvis Costello, and again when she hitches a lift with a man called Luke ... there's a brilliant twist near the end that I didn't guess at all, very skillfully done indeed. Loved it :)

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dave O'Leary

    A touching first-person account of bulimia and the struggle to fit in, the struggles we face with addiction, the struggle to be loved. It's also about the power of music. The writing shifts well from the desperate loneliness of Erin Reardon as she forces herself to throw up, feeling used and dirty and with her face covered in vomit-laden splashes from the toilet, to the joys felt experiencing music for she is a music lover to the point of obsession, to the point where it fills up the missing spa A touching first-person account of bulimia and the struggle to fit in, the struggles we face with addiction, the struggle to be loved. It's also about the power of music. The writing shifts well from the desperate loneliness of Erin Reardon as she forces herself to throw up, feeling used and dirty and with her face covered in vomit-laden splashes from the toilet, to the joys felt experiencing music for she is a music lover to the point of obsession, to the point where it fills up the missing space in her life. This is what music does, and she goes to great lengths, even crossing the Atlantic, in search of someone to share that with. She has a chance in the end to find that connection with a drug-addicted musician but is forced to make some hard choices regarding what to take and what to leave behind. Her choice is fitting, and in the end no matter which way those choices go, the music is still there, still resounding, still able to capture the joy in life, even when our perspectives have changed.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nikki

    I was pulled into the story quickly. First by the title because I LOVE the beach and then by the story of obsession with music. I too love music but have never been a groupie like Erin would like to be, but deep down I think it would be cool. I have met several famous musicians and always find it exciting. My husband is always digging into the lyrics of songs and wondering where the writer came up with the inspiration and the true meaning of each song. So I also find it interesting to find that h I was pulled into the story quickly. First by the title because I LOVE the beach and then by the story of obsession with music. I too love music but have never been a groupie like Erin would like to be, but deep down I think it would be cool. I have met several famous musicians and always find it exciting. My husband is always digging into the lyrics of songs and wondering where the writer came up with the inspiration and the true meaning of each song. So I also find it interesting to find that he is not alone in doing so, because me, I just obliviously sing along, making up words if necessary.... Bulimia is a curious disease to those of us that have never been around it. I have found it very hard to walk a mile in someone else's shoes but this story does help me to understand some of what it must be like. We all have our black secrets. I enjoyed the book and was a little disappointed for it to end.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I read this as an Advanced Reader Copy, and feel lucky I did. This is the line that made me fall in love with this book: "I loved the way Colin’s gentle Bono‑esque brogue turned me—plain old Erin Reardon—into Aerin, a Celtic princess, a fairy from the moors." I love that line, and it kind of captures for me the humility, the gratefulness, and the capacity to dream that mark the heroine of this book. The music is like a rich character in and of itself, from the Cobain-like Lenny Weir to my belove I read this as an Advanced Reader Copy, and feel lucky I did. This is the line that made me fall in love with this book: "I loved the way Colin’s gentle Bono‑esque brogue turned me—plain old Erin Reardon—into Aerin, a Celtic princess, a fairy from the moors." I love that line, and it kind of captures for me the humility, the gratefulness, and the capacity to dream that mark the heroine of this book. The music is like a rich character in and of itself, from the Cobain-like Lenny Weir to my beloved Springsteen and Elvis Costello. I also love the period details -- Bain de Soleil (!) -- that take me right back to the 80s, plus crack me up and tug my heart, as when the main character describes her mother as "Not Cheryl Tiegs pretty, but maybe Penny Marshall pretty." Rowen's prose is genuine and generous, funny and graceful, and she's got the storytelling chops to match. Brava!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Meg Hannon

    Leaving the Beach is a powerful and poignant book whose main character, Erin Reardon, is a teenage girl in a painful parental relationship. She has no self-worth, is lonely and isolated. This situation leads to a long struggle with bulimia. The story evolves over the years as Erin struggles but is willing to reach out to others. How she deals with her passion for rock music and rock icons, meets new friends, a boss that hits on her and finds a lover with his own struggles and weaknesses is very i Leaving the Beach is a powerful and poignant book whose main character, Erin Reardon, is a teenage girl in a painful parental relationship. She has no self-worth, is lonely and isolated. This situation leads to a long struggle with bulimia. The story evolves over the years as Erin struggles but is willing to reach out to others. How she deals with her passion for rock music and rock icons, meets new friends, a boss that hits on her and finds a lover with his own struggles and weaknesses is very insightful because it exposes her strengths and weaknesses. The book deftly weaves through the time periods of her life. Erin has a son and the two bring joy to their lives. There are many memorable experiences. Leaving the Beach is beautifully crafted and was a delight to read. I reserved this book at Robbins Library in Arlington and I look forward to more books by Mary Rowen.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Jordahl

    So much more than sex, drugs and rock & roll! I am fortunate to know this awesome author and had received an advance copy of this book. What really caught my attention with this book was the brutal honesty of the main character, Erin. She takes a journey and Rowen brings us as the reader along for the ride. This book deals with some very heavy subjects but in a thoughtful, caring way. We get a real insight into what makes Erin "tick" and how she evolves as a woman and as a friend. The book gaine So much more than sex, drugs and rock & roll! I am fortunate to know this awesome author and had received an advance copy of this book. What really caught my attention with this book was the brutal honesty of the main character, Erin. She takes a journey and Rowen brings us as the reader along for the ride. This book deals with some very heavy subjects but in a thoughtful, caring way. We get a real insight into what makes Erin "tick" and how she evolves as a woman and as a friend. The book gained momentum for me as I read on and I was eager to learn how Erin's life had transformed through her experiences and those around her. Read!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ina Zajac

    I read an advanced reader copy, and am so happy I did. Other reviewers have already praised Leaving the Beach for its moving and inspirational depiction of Erin's world. I wholeheartedly agree. Author Mary Rowen really gets us into Erin's head. I found her journey to be compelling and relatable. I got caught up in Rowen's honest, emotional writing style. I am a music lover, so I found Rowen's music references to be delicious. She knows her stuff. Leaving the Beach was a terrific read. I read an advanced reader copy, and am so happy I did. Other reviewers have already praised Leaving the Beach for its moving and inspirational depiction of Erin's world. I wholeheartedly agree. Author Mary Rowen really gets us into Erin's head. I found her journey to be compelling and relatable. I got caught up in Rowen's honest, emotional writing style. I am a music lover, so I found Rowen's music references to be delicious. She knows her stuff. Leaving the Beach was a terrific read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Joanne Horgan

    Quick, super interesting read! I loved reading this unique story, and enjoyed it more and more as the plot and main character developed. As someone who has never struggled with bulimia, I made some assumptions about what this character "should be like". Those were pretty quickly squashed and I thoroughly enjoyed this characters journey through early adulthood. I could not put it down! Quick, super interesting read! I loved reading this unique story, and enjoyed it more and more as the plot and main character developed. As someone who has never struggled with bulimia, I made some assumptions about what this character "should be like". Those were pretty quickly squashed and I thoroughly enjoyed this characters journey through early adulthood. I could not put it down!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Arleen Williams

    Leaving the Beach is the story of Erin Reardon, an over-weight, self-destructive, bulimic whose passion for music leads her to fantasize about finding love and acceptance in the arms of a rock star. Definitely a book for music lovers of the grunge scene, author Mary Rowen artfully laces music trivia into a heart-wrenching story of obsession. (4.5)

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kmsmac1gmail.com

    Fantastic read! I am so happy I was given an advance copy, great story, couldn't put it down, my kids have suffered. Looking forward to more books from this author. Fantastic read! I am so happy I was given an advance copy, great story, couldn't put it down, my kids have suffered. Looking forward to more books from this author.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kate Anslinger

    The author does a great job at describing Winthrop and I easily became caught up in Erin Reardon's life. I felt sympathy for her right from the start. The author does a great job at describing Winthrop and I easily became caught up in Erin Reardon's life. I felt sympathy for her right from the start.

  21. 4 out of 5

    E.C. Moore

    Let me start by saying, Leaving the Beach was not the book I expected. The cover and title caught my eye, so I made a hasty purchase. And that’s why I’m glad I didn’t take the time to read the blurb. I didn’t know what to expect, and right from the get-go I was propelled into Erin’s self-deceptive life. A perpetual outsider who tends to loath herself and elevate others to lofty heights they don’t deserve—I soon discovered Erin to be an unreliable, although likable protagonist, and began to quest Let me start by saying, Leaving the Beach was not the book I expected. The cover and title caught my eye, so I made a hasty purchase. And that’s why I’m glad I didn’t take the time to read the blurb. I didn’t know what to expect, and right from the get-go I was propelled into Erin’s self-deceptive life. A perpetual outsider who tends to loath herself and elevate others to lofty heights they don’t deserve—I soon discovered Erin to be an unreliable, although likable protagonist, and began to question most of her conclusions and decisions in the very first chapter. Erin plunges into bulimia, and her eating disorder becomes a matter-of-fact aspect of the story. Like anyone with a runaway addiction, she plans on stopping tomorrow. Unfortunately, tomorrow is a moving target. I empathized with her decent into neurosis and found it difficult to witness the disease take hold and progress. The stark and graphic misery in contrast with how Erin manages to see the good in people and the world is at times tragic. As a reader, I couldn’t help but keep turning the page in hopes the poor girl would finally get it right. The popular music, musicians, and CD’s Erin obsesses over provide a constant thread that weaves throughout the entire narrative seamlessly. An unforgettable character, Erin is sad yet funny, strong yet weak, predictable yet bewildering. Her parents are fully drawn, the loss of her father tragic, and her reaction to his death integral to her sickness. Friends, coworkers, and particularly her quirky boss are fully-imagined and entertaining. I found the author’s spare, haunting style compelling; the story raw and moving. Captivated by Mary Rowan’s precise examination of a common existence, and the melancholy realism employed, I stayed up reading way too late into the night. I just had to know the end. I will read more books by this author.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Connie Mayo

    I met this author at a literary event, and although four out of five novels I read are historical fiction, Leaving the Beach piqued my interest. Set in Massachusetts in various towns I've all been to, with a protagonist coming of age in the 80s, obsessed with music and unable to put the brakes on her bulimia. But this had the feel of a book that was a bit more quirky than my regular fare. I turned to the first page with caution. My fear was unwarranted. There is something just so engaging about E I met this author at a literary event, and although four out of five novels I read are historical fiction, Leaving the Beach piqued my interest. Set in Massachusetts in various towns I've all been to, with a protagonist coming of age in the 80s, obsessed with music and unable to put the brakes on her bulimia. But this had the feel of a book that was a bit more quirky than my regular fare. I turned to the first page with caution. My fear was unwarranted. There is something just so engaging about Erin, the narrator and protagonist. Despite the bad choices she keeps making, there is something indomitable about her. She moves her obsession from one rock star to another, with each one convinced that she will make a special connection with them - that sounds sad, depressing even, but it's not. Rowen has crafted a character that is three-dimensional and consistent - you really feel like you know Erin. Agents are always looking for a writer with Voice - well, this author has it. And a great ending. That might have been the best part. In fact, it was a book where the more I read of it, the more I liked it. I wish the book had been longer - I was really sorry to see it go.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jenni Sinclaire

    Leaving the Beach paints a rich psychological portrait of a young woman, Erin, doing her best to battle her way through adolescence and early adulthood. The author describes Erin's struggles with such compassion that you can't help relating to and rooting for her. The reader is drawn into a world characterised by anxiety, obsession, self-loathing, alcoholism and bulimia, the descriptions of which are at times quite heartbreaking. This is offset, to an extent, by the bits of humour and the many m Leaving the Beach paints a rich psychological portrait of a young woman, Erin, doing her best to battle her way through adolescence and early adulthood. The author describes Erin's struggles with such compassion that you can't help relating to and rooting for her. The reader is drawn into a world characterised by anxiety, obsession, self-loathing, alcoholism and bulimia, the descriptions of which are at times quite heartbreaking. This is offset, to an extent, by the bits of humour and the many music references which will make a lot of readers nostalgic for the rock giants of the 70s, 80s and 90s. But through it all, you never lose sight of the very serious issues Erin is dealing with. I found this novel well written, well paced, and overall well worth a read! I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. I have not been compensated in any way.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Elena Alvarez Dosil

    Review originally published at: https://lomeraniel.com/book-review-le... This book has been on my TBR pile for some months, and I regret it now so much! From the very first minutes, it trapped me and didn’t let go. I listened to it literally every free moment I had for the last days as I wasn’t able to stop. Erin Reardon has serious problems. Not only dealing with bulimia, but also losing her father to a tragic accident, and the world, in general, being unfair to this misunderstood woman. My young Review originally published at: https://lomeraniel.com/book-review-le... This book has been on my TBR pile for some months, and I regret it now so much! From the very first minutes, it trapped me and didn’t let go. I listened to it literally every free moment I had for the last days as I wasn’t able to stop. Erin Reardon has serious problems. Not only dealing with bulimia, but also losing her father to a tragic accident, and the world, in general, being unfair to this misunderstood woman. My younger years were much less eventful but I could see myself in so many of Erin’s experiences that it was like Rowen was speaking directly to me. I think the fact that Erin is such a flawed character makes her so relatable and close to our hearts. She makes a bunch of bad decisions, but I was able to understand why she was acting the way she did. Waiting for fr things to go wrong was like watching a car crash in slow motion. You know it’s going to hurt but you just can’t stop looking. There are two alternating storylines in this book, one from Erin’s younger years in high school and college, and another from several years later when she is a young independent woman but still a hostage to her fears and insecurities. There’s a common aspect to both storylines that I won’t reveal here but it adds a great deal of intrigue to the plot and complements perfectly Erin’s story. This would have been a 5-star book for me, but I found the ending a bit anticlimactic. It’s not that the story was building towards something big, and we’ve definitely seen Erin’s castles in the air plenty of times before, but there’s something not sitting well with me and I can’t put my finger on it. A solid 4.5 stars. Gryphon Corpus delivered a delightful narration. She really became Erin in this story, bringing her to life with her warts and all. The book is so well written, and the narration is so well done, that it was like listening to Erin’s thoughts and being with her at concerts, vomiting in the bathroom, and driving to work in the stranger’s car. Gryphon Corpus was also able to interpret the rest of the characters in a way that each had a different style and voice, allowing the listener to easily follow the dialogs and just relax. A book I thoroughly enjoyed and that I absolutely recommend. I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Anna Dalvi

    I did not particularly enjoy this book. I had high hopes for the music references, but I fond they mostly fell flat for me, and that in many cases the lyrics (or rather descriptions of the lyrics, to avoid actually quoting the songs) felt like fillers to make the book longer. Erin as a character did not make a lot of sense to me either. Yes, she definitely had some difficulties and struggles, but I couldn't make sense of her choices and actions. At times she was outright delusional (e.g. Bowie co I did not particularly enjoy this book. I had high hopes for the music references, but I fond they mostly fell flat for me, and that in many cases the lyrics (or rather descriptions of the lyrics, to avoid actually quoting the songs) felt like fillers to make the book longer. Erin as a character did not make a lot of sense to me either. Yes, she definitely had some difficulties and struggles, but I couldn't make sense of her choices and actions. At times she was outright delusional (e.g. Bowie concert). The ending was nice, I suppose, but quite honestly, I would have given up on this book if I hadn't been reviewing it. I did enjoy the narration of the book, and how it was immediately obvious which character was speaking. I was given a free copy of the book and have left the review voluntarily.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Carla

    This was an eye-opening read. This book is written in the voice of a bulimic woman who is obsessed with music and musicians. Every choice she makes is a bad one. I had trouble following all the parts talking about different songs, because I don’t follow musicians. But it was so interesting to see how she believed that famous artists were in love with her. That impacted so many of her actions. A sad and frightening tale. It was worth reading this book to realize how difficult it is to get out of This was an eye-opening read. This book is written in the voice of a bulimic woman who is obsessed with music and musicians. Every choice she makes is a bad one. I had trouble following all the parts talking about different songs, because I don’t follow musicians. But it was so interesting to see how she believed that famous artists were in love with her. That impacted so many of her actions. A sad and frightening tale. It was worth reading this book to realize how difficult it is to get out of a bulimic lifestyle. The author had eating disorders for many years.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Carmen Kemp

    I really enjoyed this book from start to finish. I sympathized so much with the main character. The portrayal of eating disorders are often so cliche, but that was not the case here. It was real, and raw, and not romanticized in any way. I loved how the author made the music part of the story in such a way that it was almost like another character, in the book. There was an unexpected twist at the end, and I was so immersed in the wonderful detail of the story I didn't want it to end. I really enjoyed this book from start to finish. I sympathized so much with the main character. The portrayal of eating disorders are often so cliche, but that was not the case here. It was real, and raw, and not romanticized in any way. I loved how the author made the music part of the story in such a way that it was almost like another character, in the book. There was an unexpected twist at the end, and I was so immersed in the wonderful detail of the story I didn't want it to end.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Vicki

    I feel like this passed the time fine but didn't really leave me impacted. Maybe if you grew up in the 70's like Erin, you could relate more. I know all the bands that were mentioned but I didn't find this to be a page turner and I wasn't really fond of any characters except Claire. I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in except my honest review. I feel like this passed the time fine but didn't really leave me impacted. Maybe if you grew up in the 70's like Erin, you could relate more. I know all the bands that were mentioned but I didn't find this to be a page turner and I wasn't really fond of any characters except Claire. I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in except my honest review.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Ortez

    Definitely on my top list. Mary Rowen is a brilliant writer, I fell in love with her style of writing and her vast knowledge of music which makes "Leaving the Beach" an incredibly memorable book. It is very close to my heart, I quickly connected with Erin, her struggles with an eating disorder, connecting music to important events in her life, even her mistakes and few bumps on the road are what made this character so endearing. After a rough storm, peace arrives like a summer breeze. I highly r Definitely on my top list. Mary Rowen is a brilliant writer, I fell in love with her style of writing and her vast knowledge of music which makes "Leaving the Beach" an incredibly memorable book. It is very close to my heart, I quickly connected with Erin, her struggles with an eating disorder, connecting music to important events in her life, even her mistakes and few bumps on the road are what made this character so endearing. After a rough storm, peace arrives like a summer breeze. I highly recommend this book and have proclaimed myself Mary's very own groupie (inside joke ;-D) One of the best books I've ever read. Please read this book and let Mary's charm embrace you into her mystical world.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tracy

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I can't understand all the accolades- this book was so insipid it hurt my head. A 20 something woman hitchhiking to work everyday? Having unprotected sex with a supposed junkie rockstar and getting knocked up? This is only the beginning of multiple issues I have w/this story. The main character mirrors Wally Lamb's character in She's Come Undone, but with none of the clever nuances that make that book so memorable. The Lenny Weir character is obviously supposed to be Kurt Cobain, because this au I can't understand all the accolades- this book was so insipid it hurt my head. A 20 something woman hitchhiking to work everyday? Having unprotected sex with a supposed junkie rockstar and getting knocked up? This is only the beginning of multiple issues I have w/this story. The main character mirrors Wally Lamb's character in She's Come Undone, but with none of the clever nuances that make that book so memorable. The Lenny Weir character is obviously supposed to be Kurt Cobain, because this author can't even make up another rockstar of her own to fit into the story. Lacks imagination and originality.

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