Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Review: The Summer I Wasn't Me by Jessica Verdi

Title: The Summer I Wasn't Me
Author: Jessica Verdi
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release date: April 1st 2014
Pages: 342
Genre: Young Adult contemporary
Source: Bought
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Lexi has a secret.
She never meant for her mom to find out. And now she’s afraid that what’s left of her family is going to fall apart for good.
Lexi knows she can fix everything. She can change. She can learn to like boys. New Horizons summer camp has promised to transform her life, and there’s nothing she wants more than to start over.
But sometimes love has its own path…
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I loved Jessica Verdi's debut, My Life After Now, so I was super excited to read her sophomore novel. And while I didn't love The Summer I Wasn't Me quite as much as My Life After Now because some of the storylines didn't work for me, I still absolutely love Jessica Verdi's writing.

I love that Jessica Verdi decided to write about a camp like this. I wasn't as shocked and angry at the concept as most people whose reviews I've read because most of this wasn't really new information for me, but it was fascinating to get an account of what really happens at a camp like this, and especially how the mindset of someone undergoing these kinds of procedures works. The novel definitely sends a strong message, which I really liked, and it does it without condemning religion. The whole concept is fascinating and something more people should read about.

I also loved the characters. Lexi is a great main characters, and I really enjoyed being insider her head. Like I said, it was fascinating to read about her mindset, how she actually wants the "therapy" to work, which seems unfathomable to me but actually makes sense, considering her family situation. Her family background is explored really well, and I loved how that played into the story. The secondary characters are good, too, and present a wide variety of attitudes; I especially loved Matthew.

Carolyn is a great character, too; her reasons to coming to this camp and her background are really interesting to read about. But even though I like Lexi and Carolyn individually, I wasn't a huge fan of the romance. It's a bit instalove-y, but they have chemistry at first, so I didn't mind it that much. But later on, I just found Carolyn and their relationship to be a bit too perfect, and Carolyn's decisions didn't really make sense to me. It also bothered me how much of the novel revolved around the romance; I would have preferred for Lexi to find acceptance of herself independently, rather than basing so much of it off of her relationship with Carolyn. Especially the ending was a bit too optimistic for me, and I felt like it kind of oversimplified their issues.

And then there's one storyline that just did not work, in my opinion. This is kind of a big revelation, so I can't talk about it that much without spoiling anything, but there is one issue that is just completely oversimplified. Lexi and Matthew's decisions regarding this issue didn't really make much sense to me. My main problem with the storyline is that this is a really important issue, but it was mainly just used as a plot device to drive along the romance, which I think oversimplifies and kind of disrespects this issue. It's a really good idea, but the complexities of it would have had to be explored a lot more, especially at the end, in order to really do it justice.

Even though the novel oversimplifies some storylines and the ending is a bit too optimistic to be realistic, I really enjoyed The Summer I Wasn't Me. It's a great concept with lovable and complex characters. Just like My Life After Now, The Summer I Wasn't Me is an important story that needs to be heard, and I'm looking forward to reading more by Jessica Verdi.


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