Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Summer After You and Me by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski

The Summer After You and Me* * * 1/2

Sunbathing, surfing, eating funnel cake on the boardwalk—Lucy loves living on the Jersey Shore. For her, it's not just the perfect summer escape, it is home. And as a local girl, she knows not to get attached to the tourists. They breeze in over Memorial Day weekend, crowding the shore and stealing moonlit kisses, only to pack up their beach umbrellas and empty promises on Labor Day. Lucy wants more from love than a fleeting romance, even if that means keeping her distance from her summertime neighbor and crush, Connor.

Then Superstorm Sandy tears apart her barrier island, briefly bringing together a local girl like herself and a vacationer like Connor. Except nothing is the same in the wake of the storm. And day after day, week after week, Lucy is left to pick up the pieces of her broken heart and broken home. Now with Memorial Day approaching and Connor returning, will it be a summer of fresh starts or second chances?


Right before Superstorm Sandy hit the Jersey Shore, Lucy spent and unexpected day with her long time crush, friend and part time neighbor, Connor.  A day that ends with promises made to stay in touch even after Connor goes back home for the winter/spring.  But Connor never calls and a heartbroken Lucy is forced to move on.  Fast forward to Memorial Day weekend.  Connor is back in town to do some repairs for his dad and Lucy realizes that her feelings for him are still as strong as they were last fall.  The catch is that Lucy is now dating one of her best friends, Andrew. 

As the school year comes to a close, Lucy and Andrew’s relationship crumbles and her relationships with her girlfriends and twin brother crumble along with it.  Lucy is left alone to mend her heart that has been broken by three boys (that includes her brother).  As the summer begins, she moves forward learning to live with the loss of her long time group of friends, forge new friendships and find new opportunities.

I was having a hard time deciding how to share what I loved and didn’t love about this book.

Let me begin with the things I LOVED…   

The opening of each chapter - Each chapter begins with a piece from Lucy’s junior thesis entitled, “What’s Love Got to Do With It? The Dating and Mating Habits of North American Sea Life.”  Each section is a dry humorous look at the way different animals mate and court and in turn highlights how human romance is so difficult for Lucy to understand.

The love triangle that isn’t a love triangle – I find love triangles to be exhausting and overused. But the author’s take on the love triangle is a little different which was not only refreshing but made me love the main character even more.  In my opinion, Lucy showed a level of fidelity that I think would be hard for many teens in her situation.  Going after her long time crush isn’t an option.   Not only because she is dating someone else but she really feels that she and Andrew deserve a chance.  He is one of her best friends, after all.

Lucy’s parents – I am finding more and more parents in YA that are wonderfully supportive.  Lucy’s parents have their own crap going on (financial issues caused by the havoc of Superstorm Sandy) but it doesn’t affect how much they love their children and how available they are to each of them.

Connor – He’s a pretty loveable guy.  And even reading from a first person POV (Lucy’s perspective) it’s obvious how much he REALLY likes her.

There are only two things that I didn’t love about this story…

Connor – Say what?  I know, I know.  I just said I loved him.  But here’s the thing.  Connor has a bit of a reputation with the ladies.  Not necessarily a love ‘em and leave ‘em reputation but he definitely has been known to go through girls like the summer tourist probably go through beach towels.  So even though I got the very distinct impression that he LOVED Lucy, I was also wary because he had yet to prove himself to be the kind of guy that can stick it out long term.

Lucy’s BROTHER and ALL OF HER FRIENDS – I will freely admit that this is personal for me.  I’ve been the girl whose long term friends permanently ditched her over something stupid. 23 years later (I feel so old after writing that) and it still boggles my mind that even teenagers can be so petty and cruel.  So when Lucy (slightly SPOILER-y here) ditches prom after Andrew and her brother seriously mess up I was on her side.  When she asked Connor to pick her up after leaving prom, I thought she used poor judgment but she still didn’t do anything wrong.  When Andrew tells everyone she cheated on him (she didn’t) I wanted to kick him in the nuts.  When her friend, Kiki, bitched and whined about Lucy ruining HER prom, demanded an explanation and then gave Lucy all of three seconds to explain (in other words, NO time to explain) before walking away with a big figurative screw you in Lucy’s direction, I wanted to pull her hair.  And, saving the worst for last, when Lucy finds out her brother is the one that intercepted Connor’s calls all those months ago and lied about her relationship status so Connor wouldn’t call back, I wanted to bash his face in.  This group of friends made me feel all sorts of violent.  I haven’t been that angry in a really long time.  The one saving grace was Lucy’s friend, Meghan.  Even though she pretty much ditches Lucy for the rest of the group, she also extends multiple sincere olive branches to get together to talk.  Yes, Lucy needs to learn to communicate (which is something she learns throughout the story) but their reaction to her supposed wrongdoing was upsetting to say the least.

And now that I’ve got all of that off my chest (like I said, it’s personal).  I have to say this was a very good book.  Even with all my anger at the friends and brother, the story ended up having a very satisfactory ending that left me breathing out a big sigh of relief.  Sourcebooks has been offering up some truly amazing contemporary YA authors.  Jennifer Salvato Doktorski is no exception.  If an author can make me feel so strongly about something and also make me happy at the end, it’s a guarantee that I will be adding their other books to the TBR list. 


1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad you liked this one more than me. I couldn't get over Lucy's friends. I totally agree with you too. I was on her side and the way they mae it seem like she was wrong bugged me to no end.I thought Kiki and Liam were huge jerks to her and it really bugged me. But I loved the writing and I loved the chapter intros from her paper as well. They were my favorite part of the book.

    Great Review!

    Michelle @ Book Briefs