When Summer Blew Up
The first thing any reader should know about this book is that it is LONG. I don’t mind long books, but most of the long books I’ve ever read have been for adults. This book spans into the main characters’ adult lives but a majority of it takes place in high school, building up to that point.
Since this book is so long, that leaves a lot to like about it. I liked that the setting was this cultural atmosphere. Autumn lives on an island, so there was plenty to learn from the attire, the food, even the characters’ names. I enjoyed the relationship between cast members and the diversity they brought to the story. It helped bring depth to their personalities and told the story from a unique perspective.
The friendship between Autumn and the ‘boy with red shoes’ is interesting. The book takes place in multiple periods of time since it follows the characters from high school to adulthood. That’s a really intriguing detail of the book. It reminded me of Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park. Except this book was more about a girl who struggled with the opinions of others, not because of her weight but because of her own reflection of herself.
Although I was not alive in the 1980’s, I had a fun time travelling back in time with Autumn and getting to know her younger self. Having the book span her lifetime allowed me to get to know her, and other characters, from different angles. But I think this also hindered the story somewhat. I gave a fair warning to readers in the beginning of this review that the book is long. I was not joking. The book is upwards of 500 e-pages, single spaced. For YA fiction, that isn’t fantasy/sci-fi, that’s gross overkill. Much of my complaint over the length of the book is that many of the words and descriptions used in the writing are unnecessary.
Thompson’s writing is filled with great detail. That’s wonderful for a historical fiction about the ancient Garden of Eden. But this is simple YA. A girl with a big head and a big dream meets a boy who can match her confidence—or lack thereof—with his brainy wit. There is no direct need for the book to be as long as it is. I think going into their adulthood somewhat lengthened the story but, in my opinion, a majority of the pages were filled with extra verbiage that didn’t need to be there.
Every part of the city, every passerby, every little knick-knack was described in this book. Some readers might fancy that. They need to visualize EVERYTHING. But I’m not that kind of reader, thank God. I just wanted to get to the point, which was somewhat hard to find in this story. Was it a romance? Was it a coming-of-age? Was it a contemporary? I’m not clear, other than the Olympic aspirations, as to what the point of the book was. Maybe I missed it with all the extra wordiness. Or maybe I’m not the best reader for this book.
Don’t get me wrong. The book wasn’t bad. The writing wasn’t bad. The characters weren’t bad. It just wasn’t my cup of tea.
I would still recommend this book to young and adult readers who love an intriguing book that will stick with you after you’ve finished it. It has a sweet cast and a unique voice that will make you miss high school and all its ups and downs. If you like contemporary fiction, you might enjoy this very much.
*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*