Author: Michelle Dalton
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release date: May 3rd 2011
Genre: Young Adult contemporary romance
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My rating: 2 out of 5 starsAnna is dreading another tourist-filled summer on Dune Island that follows the same routine: beach, ice cream, friends, repeat. That is, until she locks eyes with Will, the gorgeous and sweet guy visiting from New York. Soon, her summer is filled with flirtatious fun as Anna falls head over heels in love. But with every perfect afternoon, sweet kiss, and walk on the beach, Anna can’t ignore that the days are quickly growing shorter, and Will has to leave at the end of August. Anna’s never felt anything like this before, but when forever isn’t even a possibility, one summer doesn’t feel worth the promise of her heart breaking…
Straight-up romances are a hard sell for me. I do like romance, but I usually prefer it as a secondary storyline, with something else taking the main focus. I just have too many pet peeves about romance to enjoy books that focus only on a love story. I keep reading YA romances, though, because when there is one that doesn't use any of my pet peeves, I enjoy it all the more. Sadly, though, that was not Sixteenth Summer for me - while there were parts of it that I enjoyed, there were just too many cliches and little things that frustrated me about the novel.
The romance frustrated me throughout the novel. Anna and Will's relationship starts in a love-at-first-sight kind of way, which always bugs me. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's insta-love, because they do take some time getting to know each other. But the whole getting-to-know-each-other thing didn't work for me because I thought the characters by themselves were lacking; they exemplified the places they came from, but there wasn't all that much else to their personalities. Their relationship seemed more about the things they did than an actual emotional connection - the things they did were fun tor read about, since they're part of the great beach-town atmosphere of the novel, but they weren't enough to warrant the emotions and the drama. And the drama these two have is so completely unnecessary - I wanted to shake Anna and tell her to stop being so stupid throughout the entire novel. That made it hard for me to care enough about either character or their relationship.
But even if I didn't like the romance all that much, the setting saved the book for me. I love books set at the beach, and Sixteenth Summer conveys the beach theme perfectly; I loved the whole island-y, beach-town atmosphere, along with all the little quirks and events. I especially liked the scenes set at Anna's parents' ice cream place - if you're not craving ice cream by the end of this book, there is something wrong with you. The secondary characters are great, too; I loved reading about Anna's friends Sam and Caroline, as their relationship provided a nice contrast to Anna and Will's.
So, really, the romance was the only part of the novel I didn't enjoy. But with a romance novel, that's a pretty big part, which is why I can't say I liked the book all that much. If you're someone with better tolerance for cheesy romance stories, though, I can see how Sixteenth Summer could be a cute, entertaining read for you, so I don't discourage you from giving it a try.