Nov 8, 2013

Book Review: The Summer My Life Began - Shannon Greenland

Title: The Summer My Life Began
Author: Shannon Greenland
Release Date: May 10th 2012
Publisher: Speak
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: signed copy won from author
A great summer beach read filled with sunshine, cooking, and—of course—romance!
Elizabeth Margaretbetter known as Emhas 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.
I picked up this book from my out-of-control TBR pile in an attempt to bring out some metaphorical sunshine on a rainy day. That title, the beach, the girl on her bike—very summer-y, right? So imagine my surprise when with just one chapter, I was already scratching my head in dubiousness. The Summer My Life Began may just be the worst YA contemp I have ever read, and I blame that mostly on the writing.

'Show, don't tell' is one of the most common writing tips you'll see and hear, and for good reason. Admittedly, I've read a handful of books that have violated this rule, but never in the scale that this one did. And oh, was it excruciating. I actually almost DNF-ed this but I pushed myself, knowing I wouldn't have to bear with it for long because the book's a fairly short one to begin with.

Another problem I had was the characters. I'm not quite sure if this had something to do with the writing, but all of them felt flat and were just impossible to connect with. They had little to no depth at all, because any attempt to provide one was quickly moved to the end of the list and never gotten to. This was particularly disappointing because the variety of characters could have added more color to the story.

Now, I can focus on how Em's parents and grandmother's stuck-up-ness sounded irritating and forced, or how for someone who'd had to be careful her whole life, Em sure was insensitive and tactless, but let me go straight to the romance. Oh, Cade, the sexy surfer and handyman. You have no idea how high my eyebrows went when he finally said something that required more than three words. And you know when that happened? At about halfway into the book. So attractive, right? Right? *flips table*

I have to tell you, though, that the last third of this book made me glad I persevered. The characters, the romance, and even the writing went up two notches, and the last scene actually made me cry! Talk about a surprise. And if there's one thing The Summer My Life Began didn't do wrong, it's got to be the food. I'm a picky eater, but I would have eaten everything that Em made.

MY FAVORITE PART was Gwenny, Em's hilarious sister.
"I don't kiss and tell."
"TO ME YOU DO!!!!!!!!!!"


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