The summer after I graduated from high school, more years ago than I care to admit, I went on vacation with my family and stole Judy Blume’s Summer Sisters from my cousin. I devoured it quickly enough that she barely missed it and when I was done I made it my goal to find something I would love just as much. Year after year I scoured Borders and Barnes & Noble bookshelves, searched through the millions of books available on Amazon, read books my mom lent me and took up suggestions given to me by friends. And while I enjoyed the majority of the books I read, none of them really filled the hole left by the last pages of Summer Sisters.
The Summer List by Amy Mason Doan is the book I’ve been waiting for. I’m not the first to compare it to Summer Sisters and indeed it gives off that vibe – teenage best friends grown up and apart, estranged for a reason we don’t discover until we’re well into the meat of the book. It alternates between their teenage years (which I especially loved, because unlike Caitlin and Vix, who have more than 15 years on me, Laura and Casey are my exact same age) and the present, when they’re indulging Casey’s mother in a scavenger hunt she’s staged to bring them back together. We don’t know why she’s chosen a scavenger hunt, at least not at first, but we do learn right off the bat that she has some reason to believe it’s her fault they haven’t spoken in 17 years and has chosen this particular time to heal the rift.
The premise itself might seem a little far-fetched at first, but once you’re into it, you forget about that. The friendship between the girls is so organic and natural that you really can’t see it unfolding any other way. Well-developed characters, strong plotlines and interesting twists keep the story moving and even when you think you have it all figured out, something comes along to flip that idea right on its head. It was surprising me even as I turned the last few pages, but once I was done, I was completely satisfied. The periodic flashbacks to an unnamed character added even more interest – even if I hadn’t wanted to read all the way to the end to find out what happened with Laura and Casey, I would’ve kept reading just to find out who that mysterious character was and how she fit into the big picture. And it made perfect sense.
And just as a side note – this book is beautiful. As a book designer, how a book looks is almost important to me as how it reads. This book comes with a deckle-edge, a gorgeous cover, and even dust-jacket-style flaps that work perfectly as a bookmark in a pinch.
We still have a few weeks left of summer, and I urge you to go out and grab this book. You won’t be disappointed.
What’s your favorite summer book? Leave your recommendations in the comments!