Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Last Summer (of You and Me)
by Ann Brashares

Published in 2007. 306 pages.

A big fan of Ann Brashares' series The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, I was thrilled when a publicist working with Brashares contacted me about reading and reviewing her new adult novel The Last Summer (of You and Me). I'm slower getting it read than I had hoped - it was released on June 5 - but I finished it today and wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed it!

Like the girls of the Traveling Pants series, the main characters of this novel were both endearing to me and also each gave me something with which to identify. Two sisters, Riley and Alice, and their life-long friend, Paul, Alice was the one to which I related most - perhaps partially because of her name, and also because she was the "smart one" of the sisters. The plot also focuses much on Alice's feelings about growing up - and though I'm a bit older than 21 (okay, a lot older!), I could relate so well to much of her experience. One interesting tidbit was discovering that Alice liked Paul to call her by name, a "quirk" of mine that I never realized anyone else shared.

As with her young adult books, Brashares described well the point of view of each character, and I came to feel that I know them. I liked the switching of viewpoints, especially in seeing how more than one person viewed the same events, and I think Brashares uses this technique well. Another fun aspect of the book was the creative chapter titles, including "You'll Turn Out Ordinary If You're Not Careful" and "Cryogenics."

Brashares has a nice way of putting into words some great insights. Two of my favorites were these: Alice's realization, about half way through the book, that "unexpected things were not always bad" (p. 187), and Paul's observation, even later in the novel, that "the idea of love was always easier than the practice of it" (p. 274).

The Last Summer (of You and Me) is a great summer read - and, in fact, I read it while on vacation, partly on the beach. I'm hoping Brashares will write another adult novel.


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