Thursday, December 20, 2007

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

In the town of Waterby on Fire Island, the rhythms and rituals of summer are sacrosanct: the ceremonial arrivals and departures by ferry; yacht club dinners with terrible food and breathtaking views; the virtual decree against shoes; and the generational parade of sandy, sun-bleached kids, running, swimming, squealing, and coming of age on the beach.

Set against this vivid backdrop, The Last Summer (of You and Me) is the enchanting, heartrending story of a beach-community friendship triangle among three young adults for whom summer and this place have meant everything. Sisters Riley and Alice, now in their twenties, have been returning to their parents’ modest beach house every summer for their entire lives. Petite, tenacious Riley is a tomboy and a lifeguard, always ready for a midnight swim, a gale-force sail, or a barefoot sprint down the beach. Beautiful Alice is lithe, gentle, a reader and a thinker, and worshipful of her older sister. And every summer growing up, in the big house that overshadowed their humble one, there was Paul, a friend as important to both girls as the place itself, who has now finally returned to the island after three years away. But his return marks a season of tremendous change, and when a simmering attraction, a serious illness, and a deep secret all collide, the three friends are launched into an unfamiliar adult world, a world from which their summer haven can no longer protect them.

Ann Brashares has won millions of fans with her blockbuster series, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, in which she so powerfully captured the emotional complexities of female friendship and young love. With The Last Summer (of You and Me), she moves on to introduce a new set of characters and adult relationships just as true, endearing, and unforgettable. With warmth, humor, and wisdom, Brashares makes us feel the excruciating joys and pangs of love—both platonic and romantic. She reminds us of the strength and sting of friendship, the great ache of loss, and the complicated weight of family loyalty. Thoughtful, lyrical, and tremendously moving, The Last Summer (of You and Me) is a deeply felt celebration of summer and nostalgia for youth.

When this book was first announced, there was a bit of hoopla saying that this was Ann Brashares first book for adult, and yes, there were definitely some more adult scenes. Where sex is implied in the fabulous Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants book, it was more open and detailed without being completely explicit in this book. In many other ways though, this was a book that explored some of the same themes that we have previously seen from this author - loss, illness, young love. The other thing was the youngest of the two sisters who were the main female characters was only just in her twenties, and so in many ways, this book targets many of those same readers who have been reading Ann Brashares over the last however long she was writing the Traveling Pants books!

The blurb tells a lot of the story so I won't worry about regurgitating here. The story itself was a pleasant enough read about the relationship between two sisters, and about the secrets that family members keep from each other, as well about how changes in relationship dynamics can affect everyone involved both in ways that are expected and unexpected. What the book wasn't was something fresh and completely different from this author.

Overall, as long as you go into expecting something very treacley and sweet, you won't be disappointed. It was an easy enough read though.

Rating 4/5


  1. My sister read this and said about the same thing -- that it felt a lot like the Traveling Pants books. I haven't been very excited about reading it myself.

  2. A friend of mine who read this book recently told me it was confusing and not so great.. So I canceled my request at my library!
    I'm wondering now if I made a hasty decision! Sounds like you really enjoyed it.
    I haven't read The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books yet.. but I do plan to read them, so maybe I'll do that first to get a feel for her style.

    Happy Reading!
    *btw, thanks for the comment on my blog!

  3. I wouldn't go so far as really enjoyed it, but it is an easy enough read as long as you don't go into expecting any great depths.

  4. I stole - well borrowed - it of my sister because I had not taken enough books with me on holiday and I quite enjoyed reading it. It is quite different from the Sisterhood in travelling pants, which surprised me, but in the end I did like it!