ARC Review: Welcome to the Pine Away Motel and Cabins: A Novel by Katarina Bivald

Absolutely nothing is fine.

When I was a teenager I read a Sweet Valley High book where a terrible earthquake occurred and a beloved side character died in the aftermath.

She was cremated and her ashes were scattered in the ocean and I was so touched that immediately after reading that I went up to my mother and told her that when I died I wanted the same kind of treatment.


“Amanda, I don’t want to talk or even THINK about you dying before me. Let’s not discuss this, okay?!”

“But what if that does happen, mommy? ANYTHING could happen. It happened in the book!”

She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Let’s talk about this another time, okay? But not now. It’s not going to happen. I don’t want to think about it.”

Thinking about it now I completely see what she meant. What parent wants to think about burying their child? Lmao and what parent is going to gleefully write down their child’s burial wishes? But I am Ms. Lack’s Common Sense and Amanda the Oblivious.

Henny realizes that she is still lingering for a reason and it’s up to her to figure out why. She has to push her loved ones from spiraling and have them see that although she is no longer there physically, she’ll always be with them in less tangible forms.

For a book that focuses on the heaviest of subjects this was a witty somewhat lighthearted read.

Henny Broek hadn’t planned on dying obviously. Especially not on being flattened by a truck in a town she lived all her life. As a ghost she’s accepted it the best she can which is not well at all. She’s determined to keep living, keep reaching out to her family, her friends, the love of her life. After all they need her there. Everyone and everything is falling apart without her. She cannot let a little thing such as death and cremation get in her way.

Don’t get me wrong, there were points where I wanted to sob of course but I also found myself laughing at loud at many instances. Henny’s obituary was just so ridiculous that I couldn’t help myself.

I don’t think I’ve read a book where the main character was dead and narrated the entire book so this was definitely different. I mean yeah, horror novels but that’s not the same at all. This is definitely more contemporary and more about people navigating through the aftershocks of grief. It’s rough.

I was honestly very surprised and happy at the LGBT representation in the novel. MacKenzie is a lesbian and Henny’s best friend and roommate and Camila is a transwoman and one of Henny’s best friend. The town that Henny is from is very small and very close minded so a lot of this book is about them navigating the waters of this small/homophobic town. MacKenzie isn’t even allowed to go to Henny’s funeral because of the rumors between her and Henny.

It’s a little disappointing that the town’s inhabitants don’t seem to realize what a miracle it is to be alive, but maybe that’s unfair of me.

There is also long lost love. Henny’s death is bittersweet as her last moments alive are spent with the man she loved dearly and who she thought she lost forever. He comes back and they spend the night and she feels free again, she feels whole She leaves him and does not know that this time it is forever.

Moments extend into eternity

This is a book about friendship, romance, navigating through grief. It’s funny and heartwarming. It’s an enlightening read and definitely one that’ll produce tears and laughter. It is a touch on the long side and it’s a slow burn but it is more than worth the read. As much as the world is changing there are pockets and cubbies that refuse to budge. This book is a great representation of this and it’s nice to see it doesn’t shy away from the harshness of reality.

I can’t say this was easy for me to read especially with the cloud of death and depression that has been looming over me since this summer. Death is never easy and mourning is not something that goes away so easy. It’s like an ocean, each wave is different. It’s all about how you navigate through the tide.

Thank you very much to Netgalley and the publisher for this copy of my ARC. All opinions are my own.

His body was just how I remembered it, and completely different at the same time

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💜💜💜💜 4/5

Expected publication: January 7th 2020 by Sourcebooks Landmark

9 thoughts on “ARC Review: Welcome to the Pine Away Motel and Cabins: A Novel by Katarina Bivald

  1. I remember my parents’ look of horror when I informed them that I wanted my ashes to be buried with a sapling tree… it’s funny to laugh about now 😛 but I can see how terrifying it would be for parents to hear out of the blue! I haven’t heard of this book before but after this review I’m keen to give it a try!! Jen

    Liked by 1 person

      lmao if my daughter ever talked to me about her dying i would be SOOO upset though so I get it.
      yeees!! I think you’d enjoy it!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve read a few novels where deceased persons do the narration and more often than that I find them incredibly emotionally manipulative and just drowning in saccharine bleurghhhhh!!! I’m glad this wasn’t the case for you here. Lovely review dearest Amanda <3333

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love that last bit you wrote: “Death is never easy and mourning is not something that goes away so easy. It’s like an ocean, each wave is different. It’s all about how you navigate through the tide.” Such a well thought out review, Amanda! This sounds like an interesting read–especially since it covers quite heavy topics and yet there’s still humour in the writing! Color me curious 👀


    1. thank you love!!! I was trying to think of how i’ve felt during this summer because i’ve had my ups and downs and honesty that is the BEST way to describe it.’and it’s pretty rare where I laugh out loud at a book with so much death in it lmao.


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