Thursday, 1 April 2010
Review: The Summer That Changed Everything by Ann Brashares
Publisher: Corgi Childrens
Released: March 4th, 2010
Grade rating: B-
Three girls. One summer. Their friendship to salvage ...Ama, desperate to live up to her family's expectations, finds herself on an outdoor adventure summer camp. Can she stick it out or will this be the first time in her life she's ever failed anything? Tomboy, loner Polly discovers that her grandmother used to be a model and decides she's going to follow in her footsteps - even if it means starving herself to get thin. Jo's parents' are still grieving the death of her older brother and she's stuck in the middle of their messy divorce. She's got her own problems this summer too - has she made a mistake by turning her back on her old friends? Having let their friendship fade, can these three girls, with their three very different lives, struggle through the summer without each other, or will they realise they've made a mistake?
I'm a big fan of Brashares' Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants series, which was my main reason for reading The Summer That Changed Everything. Her books are always very friendship-heavy, and although I didn't enjoy her latest offering as much as I wanted to, it still focused on the same themes I've become so accustomed to.
My main problem with The Summer That Changed Everything was the closeness of the three main characters, Ama, Polly and Jo. They hardly spent any time together, and even though they were supposed to be best friends, they never seemed like it. They didn't gel as a team, and I never got that BFF vibe from them like I did with the sisterhood. I know people change and grow apart, but in order to have a whole book based around their relationship, I felt their bond needed to be stronger.
The alternating third person narrative worked well, and in response I got to know each girl as an individual. Each of their summer experiences was engaging, and not without its fair share of drama. Boys played a part in that, but as with all of Brashares' books, they're not the be-all and end-all. Friendship is always at the core of her stories, and for that reason alone, they should be recommended reading to all teenage girls.
I'm interested to see whether this continues as a series, or if the author starts something completely different. If there is indeed a second book in the pipeline, I'll definitely be along for the ride.