“She realized that these were the things she was worried about forgetting — these small familiar pieces of her old life. These fragments of things she would never get back again.”
Aubrey and Rae have been planning this trip around Europe since sixth grade. Along with their friends, Clara, Jonah, and Gabe, they are going to drink champagne, eat croissants, and tour every museum they can. Nothing is going to get in the way of this perfect goodbye to High School.
Not the fact that Aubrey somehow accidentally kissed Gabe three weeks ago. Or that Gabe happens to be Jonah’s best friend. Or that Jonah also happens to be Aubrey’s boyfriend.
Not the fact that Rae has to only make it through the trip without revealing her biggest secret. That she’s in love with very straight Clara.
Not the fact that all of them are pushing aside their fears of going to college. Colleges all over the world. Where their friendship may drift away into nothingness.
But the more they travel, the more these secrets surface. Instead of carefree and full of fond memories, Aubrey and Rae are forced to examine their friendships, both with the friends they’re traveling with, and each other.
“No one else said anything. They all just watched one another like they were trying to figure out how they’d gotten here.”
This book is a funny and charming coming of age novel. At the beginning, all of the characters feel fairly stereotypical. Aubrey is the worrier. Planning every detail of the trip rather than being aware and present in each moment. Terrified of the unknown. Rae is the more scattered friend. Wild and free and utterly without fear. Willing to move across the globe on a whim. Even Clara, Jonah, and Gabe feel like they’re in nice little boxes, though we only get narration from Aubrey and Rae, so they are the most defined of the group.
However, like life, as the trip begins to unravel from the picture perfect trip Aubrey planned, the characters also begin to show more dimension and depth. Which I think makes this a perfect story for teenagers who are themselves facing the unknown. A big lesson is that people sometimes aren’t who we want them to be, or who we think they are.
“It was hard to believe that outside, the world was moving as fast as it could. Because in here–for now, at least–they were holding still.”
The journey and growth that each character goes on is very satisfying and feels very real. They all have honest reactions to the things their friends are keeping from each other, and they all end the trip very different people than when they began. All of which feels very true to life. There is some drama, and angst, it is adolescence we’re dealing with after all, but it all feels the way kids their age would react to things. If anything, Vinesse does a good job showing their emotional range, and they tend to land on the more mature side of things. Which will makes the book appealing to an older YA reader as well.
We’ve all been at crossroads in our lives. In fact, we face them at multiple points throughout our lives. Transitioning from High School to college is such a terrifying time. We wonder if we’ve made the right choice. What the future holds. If everything will change so much that we won’t even recognize our lives anymore. We’re afraid of what that change means. If that means we lose more than we gain.
Aubrey and Rae capture all of that adolescent angst so perfectly in such different spectrums. They show us a very broad range of these fears, and hopes, and dreams. In a short time, they have to face decisions and consequences that nearly all teenagers go through on some level. They show us that friendships and relationships always change. But that doesn’t mean they end.
“And Rae would say that she felt exactly the same and completely different. There was no other way to describe it.”
The Summer Of Us is a cute contemporary that is perfect for summer reading. It will give you all the feels, and I loved the LGBTQ representation in Rae. It is light but emotional, fast but satisfying. It’s the perfect companion for poolside reading or to take to the beach. I really think it will appeal to teens in High School, or making that transition to college. It’s ideal for anyone who enjoys coming of age stories with a lot of character growth.
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Thank you Little Brown Young Readers and The Novl for sending me a copy to read and review!!!