ONE SUMMER in the French countryside, among sun-kissed fields of lavender . . .
ANOTHER SUMMER in upstate New York, along familiar roads that lead to surprises . . .
When Summer Everett makes a split-second decision, her summer divides into two parallel worlds. In one, she travels to France, where she’s dreamed of going: a land of chocolate croissants, handsome boys, and art museums. In the other, she remains home, in her ordinary suburb, where she expects her ordinary life to continue — but nothing is as it seems.
In both summers, she will fall in love and discover new sides of herself. What may break her, though, is a terrible family secret, one she can’t hide from anywhere. In the end, it may just be the truth she needs the most.
From New York Times bestselling author Aimee Friedman comes an irresistible, inventive novel that takes readers around the world and back again, and asks us what matters more: the journey or the destination.
This book should’ve of been tagged with a warning label that it would piss me off. I’ll just get the good stuff out the way, the book is readable. In this day and age of YA, that’s actually a plus because there is a lot of shit with purple prose out there that you just want to tell to f off. But even though this book didn’t have purple prose I still wanted to tell it to sod off and slam the door in its ugly face.
I should’ve known when I read that the MC’s name was Summer that we were not going to be friends. I have a bad experience with that name, so it might’ve tainted me (a little) with this book. That aside though, the MC’s name could’ve been Indiana Jones and I still wouldn’t have liked the book.
And if you know me, you know I have a thing for Indiana Jones pre-horrendous fourth movie with the prairie dogs. I think it’s the fact he kicks Nazi ass and the hat. Got to love the hat.
I’ll give credit to Summer though, I didn’t exactly hate her for the most part. Sure, girl had borderline misogynic tendencies and trashed talk supposed “Mean Girls” all the time but I mostly felt sorry for her.
She was pretty fucking pathetic. And I don’t know if that’s a good thing. I mean, I get shit happens to good people in real life but I felt like this character got hit with so much shit so I would feel sorry for her, despite hating girls instantly because they’re prettier than her. And insult girls because they’re different than her.
A Grumpy YA reader does not forget, Summer. Though you’re life sucks and your parents are horrible people and you really should ask (no, beg) your aunt to take up custody of you, so you might grow up to be a quasi decent human. But…
Yeah, there is so much shit in this book and I don’t think the fallout was ever dealt with properly BECAUSE we had to deal with the fucking gimmick of this book.
The two realities.
Which aren’t even fucking explained. Like, I’m even sure why we even have them here other than to sell the book. I can imagine that a conversation sort of like this happened between Friedman in the editors when drafting this book. Okay, not like this, but this was the sort of conversation I imagined when reading this drivel:
Editor: This just isn’t very interesting Aimee. A girl gets ditched by her father and ends up staying at home taking a lame-o junior college class and finding out a life changing secret. She was going to France. Freaking France. I wanted freaking France in this book and instead I got a boring photography class with some melodrama. I mean, who cares about the dad being a bigamist.
Friedman: Well, he’s not exactly a bigamist. They weren’t married so pseudo bigamist. And besides, it’s a life changing secret. That is our hook.
Editor Shrugs: Yeah, life changing. I mean, there’s lots of logical fallacies here that…you know what, maybe if you had What’s-Her-Face go to freaking France it might be more interesting. You know what, rewrite the book is France and gets some baguettes and hot French dudes in here and we’ll see how things progress. Oh, and when you finish your draft order me some baguettes. Wait, no baguette, I’m on a no carb thing.
Six Weeks (Or However Long it Takes) Later when Friedman finishes next draft and orders her editor a shit load of baguettes to keep her in a good mood (spoiler alert, it didn’t work).
Friedman: So, is this better?
Editor: Munching on a stale baguette and gulping some hot chalet that Friedman also bought-it was that crappy instant stuff, but still chocolate. Well, I like the hot French guy and the baguettes, but the page count is obscenely small and all What’s-Her-Face does is pout at the half sister.
Friedman: But she’s so snotty you know because she’s French and she’s the pseudo other wife’s daughter.
Editor: I know that, darling but….your page count it’s so small now. Though, I do think the French guy is an improvement from the photo guy.
Friedman: She needs to end up with the photo guy.
Editor: Why he’s positively boring, and lame. I mean, I know he wears hipster glasses but still boring.
Friedman: She needs to end up with the photography guy. You can’t do long distance relationships in YA. Unless there’s a sequel, and I can’t do a sequel (see my page count). And I really can’t increase my page count, believe me I tried there’s only so much I can write about eating baguettes in cafes.
Editor: Frowns as she bites into a baguette. Well, we need the book to hit at least 50K words now if there was just a way for you to use what you had….you know AU realities are popular in YA right now..maybe you could randomly add one and we could sale this thing.
Friedman: Well, it beats rewriting the book again. Or sending you baguettes.
Okay, that was just me being a jerk and that probably wasn’t what happened in real life, because I’m sure Aimee Friedman and her editor had a legitimate plan with this one, but God knows its what this book felt like and like the Fictional Editor, I so prefer the hot French guy to the boring stooge that the character ends up with.
Whoops, spoiler alert. Though to be fair, someone had already spoiled it for me on GoodReads and if it helps some other poor sap from getting their shipper heart ripped out then I really don’t give a fuck because the ship that one oozed bad ship.
Or bland ship I should say. With the Hot French Guy, whose name is actually Jaques (how cliche can you get) there was actual chemistry even if it was cliche beyond belief. I honestly believe that Friedman wanted to give Summer some sort of happiness at the end of the book and just couldn’t figure out a way to make Jaques and Summer stay together so she settled with Snoozer Hugh.
Bland ship aside though, one of the reasons I didn’t like this book was that the alternate realities are never really explained. Sure, we get an occasional reference of “What If” but…we don’t know what’s real and what’s not. And I still don’t know what the point of the AU shit was (other than to theorize it was to make up for a lack of page count).
When I was reading this book I was comparing it to a Lifetime movie I watched last Christmas that involved a similar premises with this career woman who lived two alternate time lines-one which she missed a plane and another where she caught it. This book reminded me of that premises, but the movie (that’s right a Lifetime movie) did a better job explaining it.
At the end of the day, I just didn’t like this book. Maybe there were some things that were trigger inducing for me-the name summer and some of the plot devices BUT it wasn’t that so much but the unexplained idiocy of the plot and the stupid ship.
Overall Rating: A D the writing gave it the passmark (barely).