Wednesday, April 20, 2016

ARC Review: Two Summers

Title: Two Summers
Publisher: Point
Publication Date: April 26, 2016
Source: Goodreads First Reads Program

ONE SUMMER in the French countryside, among sun-kissed fields of lavender . . .

ANOTHER SUMMER in upstate New York, along familiar roads that lead to surprises . . .

When Summer Everett makes a split-second decision, her summer divides into two parallel worlds. In one, she travels to France, where she’s dreamed of going: a land of chocolate croissants, handsome boys, and art museums. In the other, she remains home, in her ordinary suburb, where she expects her ordinary life to continue — but nothing is as it seems.
In both summers, she will fall in love and discover new sides of herself. What may break her, though, is a terrible family secret, one she can't hide from anywhere. In the end, it may just be the truth she needs the most.

From New York Times bestselling author Aimee Friedman comes an irresistible, inventive novel that takes readers around the world and back again, and asks us what matters more: the journey or the destination.

My Review

In her latest YA novel, Two Summers, Aimee Friedman poses a question that many people ask themselves on a daily basis, "What if?" There are always different ways to do things, different choices to make, and with that, there could be different outcomes. I thought that this book was a fun, quirky, wonderful and refreshing way to write a novel about all the different possibilities that come with every teenager's favorite time and season - summer vacation.

Summer Everett is ready to head to Provence, France to see her father for the first time in years. Just as she's about to board her plane, she gets a phone call from an unknown number. Should she answer it? She she let it go to voicemail and get on the plane? What would happen if she did both? In one reality, Summer doesn't answer the call and gets on the plane, but in another reality, Summer answers it to have her dreams of a perfect summer crushed. Both choices lead her to very different summers, but will the outcome still be the same?

You might be able to guess this from the title of the novel, but the plot of Two Summers is actually comprised of two very different plots that result in two very different Summer Everetts. (By the way, I love how that title works in two different ways!) One plot revolves around Summer going to France for the summer to see her father, and the other plot showcases her staying with her mom in Hudsonville, New York and taking up a new hobby. While both plots are completely different, each one served its purpose - a coming-of-age time period for Summer Everett. While I can't say that I liked one plot more than the other, I can say that I enjoyed reading about both different realities for this young teenager. I thought that good and bad things happened to Summer in both versions of her life, and I think that she grew up a lot in each different summer.

There is also one huge event that is revealed to Summer in both summers, and I admire how Ms. Friedman wrote this into both versions of reality for Summer. Both felt like they could actually happen, and seeing how Summer reacted really established how turbulent a teenager's life can be.

There is a little bit of diversity in this novel, but mostly in subplots and supporting characters. There are broken families and blended families, and it was nice to see that, especially because there are so many teens in families like this today. There are also some diverse supporting characters that Summer is friends with.

I also really liked getting to see both versions of Summer. At her core, she's pretty much the same person in each version of her life. She's an only child who has had to deal with the divorce of her parents. She learns that even the best friendships need a break every once in a while. She also learns that love comes at the most unexpected moments. She's also not perfect, and she has her bratty teenage moments, but I think that made me like her even more. She's real, and I think that many young teenagers will be able to see themselves in her.

There are also a lot of other characters in this novel, and many of them actually appear in both realities that Summer experiences. Summer's parents are present in both sections, just in different ways. These two aren't perfect, either. They've kept a huge secret from their daughter, but Ms. Friedman includes parents that are actually there for Summer, in one way or another. Her mother is definitley the dominant parent, but Ms. Friedman makes it clear that Summer's father is trying to make an effort to be there more for his daughter. Summer's friends are also in her life in both realities, whether she actually sees them or interacts with them via social media during her time in France. It was nice to compare and contrast their importance to her during both versions of Summer's summer.

I really enjoyed reading Aimee Friedman's Two Summers. I thought that it was a cute contemporary novel, and I'm looking forward to reading more by Ms. Friedman. I can see fans of the movie Thirteen Going on Thirty and fans of Stephanie Perkins enjoying this book. I'm sure that this one will be a hit with both the younger and older teenage crowds, as well as anyone who loves questioning all the different possibilities that can be thrown at one person.

Aimee Friedman was born and raised in Queens, New York, in an apartment filled with books and different languages. She wrote her first story at the age of five, and was off and running from there. Aimee wrote all through her years as a student at the Bronx High School of Science and then Vassar College. After graduating from college in 2001, she became a children's book editor, a job she still does, and loves, to this day! Aimee published her first novel, the New York Times bestseller, South Beach, in 2005, and is now the author of several novels for young adults, the latest being Two Summers. Aimee lives in New York City, where she can usually be found writing in cafes, window-shopping, or searching for the perfect iced latte.

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