Five Summers by Una LaMarche | Book Review

20130512-105634.jpgBook Title/Author: Five Summers by Una LaMarche
Publisher/Year
: Razorbill May 16th 2013
Genre: Contemporary YA
Series: No
Other Books From Author: None — debut novel!

Amazon| Goodreads | Twitter |

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

This book inspired this Beyond The Pages post about friendship!

 

Jo, Maddie, Skylar and Emma have been best friends since they met at summer camp when they were 10. They are now 17 and it’s been 3 years since they’ve all spent the summer together after their last summer as campers and they are reuniting for the weekend at their first camp reunion. They still call each other best friends but with their diminishing communication and the feel of growing apart they are all a little nervous about the weekend — especially when there are underlying secrets and unresolved things from that last summer.

I  thought this one was an okay to good read — I was so excited for it which makes it all the more sad that I didn’t LOVE it like I thought I would. There were some really great things about it and it did those things well but, overall, I just didn’t get that WOW I LOVE THIS BOOK feeling and I think most of it was a lack of connection to the characters which I’ll explain further later on. However, I really feel like younger teenage girls are going to LOVE this one and rightly so. I know I would have at that age but at 27 I was looking for a deeper connection with the characters because I could RELATE but I couldn’t CONNECT.

Five Summers by Una LaMarche is undeniably one of those reads that exudes that summertime feel and makes for a really excellent beach read. I had been complaining about the lack of camp settings in my post about 10 settings I’d like to see more of and Una LaMarche really made me feel the summer camp vibe and I loved it. I  think it really portrayed the fun of summer camp (though I never went to one that long) well.

The premise itself was great and what made this on my most anticipated reads list. Four girls meet at summer  camp and became best friends from the start are now back at their camp reunion three years later. They have grown and changed and there are secrets bubbling under the surface that threaten to change things even more for them. The story was interesting enough and had quite some realistic drama, albeit a bit predictable, and handled really well the way that friendships struggle with change and growing up. I thought that portrayal was so well done and hit very close to home when you feel like your friendship just doesn’t “fit” the right way anymore — like a shirt that shrunk just a wee bit from the dryer but you love it so much that you keep trying to wear it.

As much as I enjoyed the general story and there were moments when I was really into the girls’ story, I also found myself really bored and skimming through some parts as well as feeling like it was a little clunky in ways. Five Summers is the story of their reunion but it is also interspersed with many chapters that are memories from the various years of each summer that they were at camp from age 10-14. It really gave a lot of insight into why some of the things are the way they are now and I did enjoy seeing their friendship at its best. The story is also told in alternating perspectives, which I thought WAS essential to understand all the girls, but with that and the memories and the present day it was sometimes clunky and confusing going from present day Emma to 12 year old Jo to present day Maddie to present day Skylar to 13 year old Emma.

I think part of my problem with all of the alternating perspectives was that I never felt a distinct voice for any of them and they all just kind of blended in as one. I think this caused me to not really connect with the girls individually — they felt very much like surfacey characters to me and kind of cliche — the tomboy, the flirt, the bookish overachiever and then one who tried so hard to hide who she really was because she didn’t feel like she could fit in — and I wanted to think of them as more than that but it never really happened. As much as I didn’t feel like I connected with them individually I felt as though collectively as a group I connected because of the author’s great portrayal of the ups and downs of friendships and I was totally rooting for them to sort  things out.

A minor thing that really could have just been ME is that when the chapters switch from present day selves at 17 to their youngers selves  it was clearly indicated which summer it was and whose perspective but I found myself having a hard time remembering and I think it was because the voice didn’t really ever felt like it changed from their 17 year old self to their pre-teen selves (I though the 10 year old chapter was fine). I kept thinking, “Would a 12 year old talk like this?” “Am I really just so far removed from being that age that I can’t remember what I talked about and how I talked?” Regardless of that, I just felt like the voice just really stayed the same throughout and just seemed off to me personally.

Definitely got a Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants feel from this book! Five Summers was an enjoyable read about friendship and growing up and I was smitten with the summer camp setting but unfortunately this just lacked something for me to be super excited about it. It was only an okay read for me because I never really connected with the girls individually as they sort of all blended into one voice-wise. I just never felt much on a deeper level like I should have though I related a lot to the ups and downs of figuring out where you fit when friendships evolve and change. Not really the MUST READ I thought it was going to be but I know it’s the breezy, cute read dealing with normal teenage things that a lot of people will enjoy if they find themselves connecting to the girls. I plan to recommend it to my 16 year old niece.

 

Five Summers by Una LaMarche review

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one?? Heard of it? If you’ve read it, did you enjoy it? What are some other books you’ve read that are about friendship?

 

 

two-half-stars

Review: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

teen summer romanceBook Title/Author: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
Publisher/Year: : Simon & Schuster 2009
Genre: Contemporary YA
Series: Yes — it’s the first book in the Summer series!
Other Books From Author: Shug, Burn For Burn, rest of the Summer series!

Amazon| Goodreads | Jenny Han’s website

The Story

For as long as Belly can remember she, her brother and mom spent their summer at the beach house with her mom’s best friend Susannah and her sons Jeremiah and Conrad who along the years have been her playmates, her enemies, brother-like figures and in the recent years — her crushes!  This summer it seems as though the boys are starting to see how much she’s grown up and are actually letting her hang around.  Summers at the beach house were always perfect for Belly and she lived for those months when they’d be back at the beach house — all the other seasons just led up to Summer. This summer seems like the summer that will change everything but will Belly be ready for just how much change?

The Review:

The Summer I Turned Pretty is one of those books that everyone has told me I must read! After having read it I understand why! It’s just one of those really wonderful contemporary YA books that I’m so glad I finally read — it seems like a rite of passage or something for most people who are hardcore contemporary YA fans. And I definitely understand why it’s on all the “Great Beach Reads” lists — it’s got a great summer vibe, romance, fun — but also some substance that makes for some pretty serious and REAL moments that balance really well with the general lightheartedness of the book. Moments that are quite raw and real; a striking contrast to the carefree picture perfect moments of the summers Belly recounts.It’s really quite everything I love in my contemps!

I just love the way Han paints this picture of these summers at the beach house through flashbacks of summers past and obviously through the current summer. She just makes you feel Belly’s love for the beach house and why it’s so special to her. I just got those warm, fuzzy feelings towards my own childhood & teen summer memories — beach days, pools, lazy days lounging in your swim suit, iced tea and more! Han creates the perfect setting for fun and romance and the beach house seems like this perfect backdrop to some of the growing up and self discovery that happens to the characters– something that I feel like will happen even more in the remaining two books with how this one ended!

I loved the boys! Jeremiah and Conrad are just so wonderful and I loved the relationship Belly had with each of them. During the whole book I couldn’t figure out which one was RIGHT for her but I just loved the tension between her and Conrad. I can’t help but love Conrad — I felt like there was something more going on with him and his “brooding” and then at the end when all of his feelings came out…OH MY GOD. I would have been a heaping pile of mess on the beach next to him. I cannot WAIT to see where the next books take her relationships!

I liked Belly. I think I’ll grow to love her. I didn’t feel as though I didn’t get a sense of who she was outside of her love for the beach house and the boys — and the fact she’s kind of whiny. I mean, I know that all we know of her exists in the confines of her summers at the beach house mostly but I did wish I got to know MORE of her — I just didn’t really feel like I KNEW her; but I suspect in the next two books will get a REAL sense of who she is. I hope! The good thing is — she felt REALLY authentic and seemed like a normal girl that anyone could relate to on some level.

 

My Final Thought

Love the start of this series and so glad I finally listened to all my blogger friends on this one! It’s just a really good example of really wonder contemporary YA. It’s just so real and finely written. Jenny Han gets straight to the heart but not in some contrived, overly dramatic way. She creates something light and fun but with substance and heart — the epitome of what I look for in a beach read! Cannot wait to devour the rest of this trilogy! I also will say I wish I was a teen when I read this because  I would have been even MORE obsessed with this!

 

You May Also Like: books by Sarah Dessen, Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler, The Boys Next Door by Jennifer Echols

four-stars
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