Review | Up At Butternut Lake by Mary McNear

Posted June 23, 2016 by Asheley in review / 1 Comment

Review | Up At Butternut Lake by Mary McNearUp At Butternut Lake (Butternut Lake #1) by Mary McNear
Series: Butternut Lake
Published by William Morrow on April 8, 2014
Pages: 357
Source: Library
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It's been ten years since Allie Beckett crossed the threshold of her family cabin at Butternut Lake, Minnesota. Now, newly widowed after the death of her husband in Afghanistan, she's returned with her five-year-old son.

There, she reconnects with the friends she had in childhood-best girlfriend Jax, now married with three kids and one on the way, and Caroline, owner of the local coffee shop. What Allie doesn't count on is a newcomer to Butternut Lake, Walker Ford.

Up at Butternut Lake follows these four unforgettable characters across a single summer as they struggle with love, loss, and what it means to take risks, confront fears, and embrace life, in all of its excitement and unpredictability.

Allie Beckett could never have imagined, when she ran away from her old life, that she was running into a whole new life, up at the lake….


This is a great read for summer and a great comfort read. 

Up At Butternut Lake by Mary McNear centers around Allie Beckett and her son Wyatt who are grieving the loss of their husband/father after he was killed in action in Afghanistan. This happened before the book begins. When the book opens, the mother and young son have just arrived at a small cabin on Butternut Lake, ready to begin a new life free from the sad looks and tones of voice that have plagued them in the year since Allie’s husband has died. This is the cabin that Allie spent her summers as a young person so she has come to a place of some familiarity, but it is completely new for Wyatt. Allie is able to reconnect with her best friend from her teenage summers, Jax, and share some of the local venues that she loved when she was younger with Wyatt. It takes a long time for the two to feel at home, months actually, but eventually they do – and it is only with the help of some of the other locals. 

Walker Ford owns the cabin across the lake as well as the local boatyard. Allie’s good friend from when she was younger, Jax, is married and pregnant with three young children – perfect for helping Wyatt get settled in with friends. Local diner owner Caroline remembers Allie from when she ate at the diner as a child and is a near-constant source of advice, a babysitter, and just a dear sweet friend to her. Everyone in a this small town – everyone – has issues of their own that they’re trying to live with and deal with. Nothing really too heavy, but this is something that is notable in this book (we’re not the only one dealing with problems, we don’t have to feel alone, etc). This is actually brought to Allie’s attention at one point, and it really does help her to settle down a bit and feel a little more comfortable in her new place – like she doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb because she’s carrying around her grief. Everyone is carrying around something. 

Besides the small-town Minnesota lake setting, which I loved, I adored the character-driven nature of this book. The synopsis reads like this is an Allie/Walker story, and in a way I guess it is. But I learned so much about Jax and Caroline and their own stories, and the author developed them so well that I feel like I have a pretty good handle on at least a portion of the town now, and I’m ready to jump right into the next book. Also, the author mentions in her note that this book has themes of confronting the past in order to move forward in life – this is something that pretty much all of the characters has to do in some way, and I love the way the author chose to write this into each character’s story arc. 

Small-town companion series are some of my favorites, and I’m glad that I chose to finally begin the Butternut Lake Series. I’m also glad that I waited until 1) several of the books are already out so that I can binge-read and 2) summertime to start this, because this first book begs to be read on the porch or by the water. I am such a huge fan of women’s fiction/contemporary fiction with romance, and while this book falls firmly into this category, I think there is plenty in here for guys to grab it if they want to as well.


About Mary McNear

Mary McNear Author Photo

Mary McNear, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Butternut Lake series, writes in a local doughnut shop, where she sips Diet Pepsi, observes the hubbub of neighborhood life, and tries to resist the constant temptation of freshly made doughnuts. Mary bases her novels on a lifetime of summers spent in a small town on a lake in the northern Midwest.

Photo by Amelia Kennedy


About Asheley

Asheley is a Southern girl. She loves Carolina blue skies, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and NC craft beer. She loves all things history but prefers books over everything.

You can find her somewhere in North Carolina, daydreaming about the ocean.

Find Asheley on Litsy @intothehallofbooks!


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