The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland
Elizabeth Margaret–better known as Em–has always known what her life would contain: an internship at her father’s firm, a degree from Harvard, and a career as a lawyer. The only problem is, it’s not what she wants. So when she gets the opportunity to get away and spend a month with the aunt she never knew, she jumps at the chance. While there, Em learns that her family has some pretty significant secrets. And then there’s Cade, the laid-back local surfer boy who seems to be everything Em isn’t. Naturally, she can’t resist him, and as their romance blossoms, Em feels that for the first time ever, she is really living life on her own terms. (Goodreads)
After graduation Elizabeth Margaret receives an invitation to spend a month at her aunt’s island bed and breakfast. Elizabeth has never met this aunt. She didn’t even know she existed. But she needs the time away from her high pressure perfect life and ridiculously perfect family. She has one summer before she leaves for Harvard and later begins the law career that her parents have mapped out for her. This vacay could be her last moment of freedom.
As Elizabeth—or Em as she comes to be known—falls in love with the tiny ocean front town where her aunt resides, she discovers a whole side of herself that she had no idea existed. She explores her culinary skills (something frowned upon at home) in the B&B’s kitchen, she gets to know her cousin Franklin, and enjoys taking a step away from the expectations of her mother and grandmother. She also unearths a deep family secret while on her little getaway. And of course, she meets a cute guy. I mean, what kind of summer would it be without some kissage from a hot guy who surfs?
This book has some cute qualities. Summer? Check. Cute boy? Check. Sweet heroine finding herself? Check. Awesome family/friends? Check.
At the same time, I had a couple of issues, albeit minor ones. First, the family secret is super-obvious. I’m serious. It’s not like I’m some Sherlock Homes, brainiac detective. It’s just that out there, plain for all to see. I’m not sure if it’s meant to be that way, but it’s very hard to believe that Em—Miss Valedictorian of her class and Future Harvard Law student—couldn’t at least begin to put it together earlier.
Second, sometimes the writing was a little awkward and stilted. Some of the conversations didn’t flow nicely and there were moments that just didn’t really ring true. And although I enjoyed the romance and really liked the love interest, Cade, there were numerous references to his “sexy grin.” I mean, this bordered on Stephenie Meyers and her gross usage of “ochre eyes.” I get it. He’s cute. His smile is cute. You think he’s a sexypants. There has to be another way to say it at least half of the time. Really.
In the end, I still really enjoyed this book! It was a sweet, summery read. I think what really drew me in, other than the whole beach town, summer setting was the characters. Em, her aunt, the B&B staff and Cade were all fun and likeable. And while I didn’t love the way the end played out, I was still happy for the characters and sorry to say goodbye to them when all was said and done.
Crush Intensity: 3/5
Thank you to Penguin Young Readers for sending me a copy of this book!