Thursday, May 16, 2013

Five Summers - Book Review

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There's a new YA novel hitting bookstore shelves today, and it kind of reminds me of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants meets Now & Then. Written by Una LaMarche, the book introduces readers to four girls, each with their own stereotype: Jo, the sporty one; Maddie, the dramatic Southern girl; Emma, the book nerd; and Skylar, the slutty artist. (I'm sorry, but she is!) The main action of the book takes place at the girls' summer camp reunion. At 17, it's been three years since they "graduated" from summer camp and have been in one another's presence. Now they are eligible to attend the annual reunion, and they're hoping that things will be just like old times.

But they soon realize that they can't go back in time. As much as they want things to have stayed the same, they've changed, and they've got a lot to learn about each other over one weekend. Long-kept secrets threaten to tear apart the girls' friendship. It's actually pretty realistic, the things the girls fight over. Boys play a big role in the friction.

As the tension among the girls rises, readers are treated to flashbacks of the previous summers, starting with the fourth summer, then the third summer, then the second, and finishing with the very first time all four girls met. (The reunion is their fifth summer, hence the title of the book.)

I liked the way the book developed: going forward in the present and going backward in the past. And it was a pretty realistic book, including Emma's description of guys on the NYC subway: "The most eligible bachelor I've ever seen was an old guy clipping his nails." (p. 80) THAT TOTALLY HAPPENED TO ME ONCE ON THE SUBWAY!! But seriously, I really felt for the girls in this book and all the things they were going through in their friendship and their personal lives. Hopefully, readers of the target age range will, too.

What is the target age range? 12 and up. I'm not sure how they choose the age ranges for YA novels, but I thought 12 was a bit young. These girls are in high school, almost seniors. And while the flashbacks are of the girls at 13, 12, 11, and 10, I really don't think 12- and 13-year-olds should be reading this book. 15 and up seems more appropriate. There is sex talk (nothing too risque - mainly anything in detail is just making out, but there are references to people having sex) and underage drinking. Not much language. Still, things for parents to keep in mind before choosing this book for their kids.

Five Summers is available to purchase starting today. It is published by Razorbill, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group. I received a free review copy for my honest review.

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