Friday, August 08, 2014

Review: Five Summers by Una LaMarche

Title: Five Summers
Author: Una LaMarche
Publisher: Razorbill
Release date: May 16th 2013
Pages: 384
Genre: Young Adult contemporary
Source: Bought
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Four best friends, five summers of camp memories...
The summer we were nine: Emma was branded “Skylar’s friend Emma” by the infamous Adam Loring...
The summer we were ten: Maddie realized she was too far into her lies to think about telling the truth...
The summer we were eleven: Johanna totally freaked out during her first game of Spin the Bottle...
The summer we were twelve: Skylar’s love letters from her boyfriend back home were exciting to all of us—except Skylar...
Our last summer together: Emma and Adam almost kissed. Jo found out Maddie’s secret. Skylar did something unthinkable... and whether we knew it then or not, five summers of friendship began to fall apart. Three years after the fateful last night of camp, the four of us are coming back to camp for reunion weekend—and for a second chance.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

 I wasn’t expecting much going into Five Summers – I hadn’t heard all that much about it, and it sounded good, but also not like anything special, anything that hasn’t been done before. And it’s true that Five Summers doesn’t have the most original premise, and in a while, I probably won’t be able to tell it apart from the other summer-camp related books I’ve read. But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t love it – Five Summers is a cute, fun, entertaining summer read!

It’s been done before, but I’m a huge fan of books set at summer camp. I’ve never been to camp, so it’s a foreign world to me that I always love to explore in books. This setting provides so many opportunities for intense relationships and fun stories, and Una LaMarche makes use of it expertly, creating a ton of entertaining relationship and friendship drama with the backdrop of the camp. Since it’s a reunion, we don’t get quite as much of the excitement of being away from home and experiencing something new, but we do get some insights because of the flashbacks. I wish, though, we had found out even more about the girls’ first summer, to see how they all met and became friends.

The characters are what make this book work – I loved all four of these girls! As always in books with more than two narrators, I had some trouble telling them apart, but once I figured it out, I could definitely see their individual voices and personalities shining through. Each one of them has their own story and background that I loved reading about. If I had to pick a favorite, it would probably be Skylar, but I related to and felt for each of the girls in one way or another. Since each of the four girls has their own story, though, you could say that some of them lack depth, just by nature of not being able to fit four fully-developed stories into a less-than-400-page book. Emma seemed to be the “main” character, as we get more chapters from her POV than from anyone else’s, and I wish that had been a little more equal – Emma’s a good character, but she’s very much the typical YA narrator, so I wish that the other three, who are a bit more unconventional for contemporary YA, had gotten a bit more screen (page?) time. Especially Maddie’s story could have been explored in a lot more depth. But overall, I loved each of their stories.

I know this is just a little thing, but the title kind of bothered me while I was reading. Because it’s called Five Summers, I had assumed that there would be a section on each summer, that each summer would be equally important, but that’s definitely not the case – it’s all about the reunion summer, with flashbacks to the previous four. I didn’t mind – the girls are so young in these flashbacks that if those previous summers had been the focus, this would have been more MG than YA – but I do think that the title is kind of misleading, and I wish they had chosen a title that better reflects the novel. And speaking of little things, the copyeditors could have definitely read through this one again – the mistakes didn’t take anything from my reading experience, but they did bother me sometimes.

If you like books about summer camp, Five Summers is one you can’t miss! It might not be the most meaningful story that will stay with me forever, but it was definitely an entertaining read. I loved getting to know these characters and each of their stories. I can’t wait to read Una LaMarche’s new novel, Like No Other!


  1. I was so mislead with the title, too! Not that I really minded the format, but I was definitely expecting to watch the progression of a friendship over five years. Darn you, misleading titles!

    But, altogether, like you I really enjoyed this book. Sure it's not the best or most original book, and I definitely also had trouble differentiating the narrators, but it was cute and entertaining, and the friendship(s) was well done.

    1. Exactly! I don't mind that it's not the case, but I was expecting to see the characters grow and their relationships evolve, so I wish they had chosen a less misleading title. Thanks for the comment :)


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