The sand dollar inn, the first book in the Manatee Bay series is one of the most wholesome books that I have read in a long while. Written by Hazel Taylor, this story is a great pick-me-up for when you’re in need of company – one that allows you to feel all of your emotions without judgement, and that’s actually what I love the most about The Sand Dollar Inn. There are themes of love, loss, family, and how they can all come together as one in times of need. It portrays characters and all of their flaws, but also how they can be hurdles to overcome in a character.
It is set from the beginning that the protagonist of this novella suffers from the loss of her husband, but is distracted from her troubles by an unexpected adventure from her late father, which she enjoys with her family. While trying to resolve her issues that have come along with the passing of her husband, she is able to step back and appreciate what life has to offer, thanks to the lovely gift from her dad.
Taylor sets a lovely pace for the readers of this book, allowing for a relaxed introduction, which then progresses to just a little bit more excitement. It’s not a book that I would say I couldn’t put down, as it’s more of a feel good read. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing either – one of my favourite genres is thriller but I do like something such as The Sand Dollar Inn as an in-between pick me up. The pace, for me, had set up a decent speed at which I could read so that it didn’t drag the story on but also didn’t finish the book so quickly that I would feel it was too short. It’s only about 70 pages long and I didn’t realise that until I had finished! It left me wanting to read the next in the series.
The one thing I would note that I think should have been improved was the transition between present tense and the flashback of the protagonist’s memory – I had to double back and re-read the start of the page to find my bearings again. In saying that, it’s such a small thing to worry about. The structure and layout of the book as well as the writing itself is so professionally done that it should be on the popular shelf in bookstores!
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I found it to be comforting and at times uplifting, regardless of the sad parts of the story. Taylor did a brilliant job in creating such a wholesome and empathic literary companion for those who need a little something to get through the day. It’s a story that goes to show there’s always a bright side to life no matter the obstacles you come across. I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.