Have you ever wondered how your life might have been different if only you’d fill-in-the-blank?
I know I have, and that’s exactly what Aimee Friedman addresses in her incredibly fun YA title, Two Summers.
There are so many things to like here…
Pain au chocolat.
This novel will make you crave pastries. Don’t question me. You will be smelling the incredible scents of the french countryside as you turn the page, and you will want sweets. In fact, it’s probably best if you just settle in to read this book with some pastries and a mug of thick hot chocolate next to you. Trust me, you’ll thank me later. (Also, if you’re even bothering to question this advice, why do you ever need an excuse to eat pastries and drink hot chocolate?)
Two summers. One outcome.
I thought the structure of this novel was brilliant. Summer gets a phone call from an unknown number just as she’s about to board her plane for France and, suddenly, the time stream splits in two. In one universe, she answers the call, and stays home all summer. In the other, she ignores the call and hops on the plane, headed for a French summer getaway. They’re drastically different paths to take, but they both lead Summer to the same conclusions and the same phase of life, which I really loved. It’s interesting how certain choices can change everything and other choices can lead us to the exact same place no matter what we choose. I think Aimee does a great job of exploring those paradoxes.
Strong female narrator.
I liked Summer as a narrator – she’s honest about who she is, and unapologetic about it, which is how I aspire to be in my life. But, like any teenage girl (or rather, any girl or woman in genera), she still as her doubts and insecurities. She still makes both good and bad decisions. She felt very honest to me, and I definitely found myself rooting for her.
Friendships and drama.
I’ve said this many times, but I love books that center on friendships. Summer and her best friend are having a rough time throughout this book, and I liked that they’re both right and wrong about a lot of things. Growing apart isn’t easy, but learning how to change and adapt is a part of life, and while it’s hard, it’s definitely necessary if you want to move forward. Summer and Ruby demonstrate that a lot in this book.
In her parallel realities, Summer encounters two very different hot boys to spend her summer with, and while they were both pretty scrumptious, I was definitely team Ethan from the beginning to the end. Just saying, that watering hole scene… pure perfection. He’s the clear winner in my book.
What is real life?
Which of course, brings me to the ending. I wish that Aimee had left it a bit more open ended, but I felt she clearly indicated which summer actually happened and which was just speculation. Unfortunately, I wanted the other summer to be the real one. They both lead to the same place, and I know Summer will have other opportunities to experience the things she didn’t experience during the speculative summer, but still. I was disappointed that it wasn’t left to the reader to decide which happened and which didn’t.
There’s also a pretty big twist about 3/4ths of the way through the book – I think it’s a little too obvious (too much foreshadowing), but I still thought it was an interesting development. If it had occurred sooner I think it would have been very interesting to explore it even further. As it is, it’s kind of the catalyst of the book, and everything starts to wrap up almost as soon as Summer finds out about it.
Other than that, I really enjoyed this cute contemporary, and think it would be a great summer (sorry to have to repeat that word so many times but her name is Summer and the entire book is about summer and it really would make a good summer) read.
Rating: 4/5 stars