Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Review of The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland

Title/Author: The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland
Publisher/Date published: Penguin Publishing, May 10th 2012
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley

Goodreads summary: "Elizabeth Margaret — better known as Em — has always known what life would contain: an internship at her father’s firm, a degree from Harvard and a career as a lawyer. The only problem is that it’s not what she wants. When she gets the opportunity to get away from it all and spend a month with the aunt she never knew, she jumps at the chance. While there, Em pursues her secret dream of being a chef, and she also learns that her family has kept some significant secrets from her, too. 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 she is living on her own terms for the first time."

Ok, so you guys, there was lots of good in The Summer My Life Began. But there was also a big load of things that bothered me. Or maybe it was just that the end royally sucked in my opinion. Let's explore, shall we?

Elizabeth Margaret, who is actually called Elizabeth Margaret by everyone except her little sister, is a girl who wants to make her parents happy (and seriously, there is nothing wrong with this in theory) and does this by conforming to what they see in her future instead of telling them what she really wants. I loved the bond she had with her sister and that she cared about her family. I did not love said family so much, apart from Gwenny, the sister. I mean, really, they were stiff and unforgiving and just did not seem interested in the least in what Em wanted and were not even a warm and affectionate family in the slightest.

Then Em lands into the warm nest that is her aunt Tilly's home and discovers things can actually be different. And I enjoyed seeing Em struggle with her sense of loyalty to her family and their wishes and coming into her own and learning what she wanted out of life.

There were also times I wanted to yell at her. I mean, that time when she goes out with a sorta bland guy, kisses him and then kisses Cade RIGHT AFTER??? Sure, I was cheering at them kissing, but I don't care if you're not officially together, that's still not right. Especially when you're not even telling said other guy about it and even go on another date with him.
I did really enjoy the romance between Em and Cade, they were so sweet together and I loved how they connected and they genuinely spent time together and it was just pretty amazing. Cade is a good guy with some lovely hidden talents!

I had seen the big plot point coming from pretty much the start, I think I was about 20 pages in when I figured it out. But, somehow, Em is just closing her eyes to all the clues falling together around her and did not see it coming at all. And COME ON! She was the valedictorian. She's smart. She should have figured it out. Or at least have had some inkling something wasn't adding up.

But all this aside, I was enjoying myself reading this. Right up until Em discovers the BIG FAMILY SECRET and then it all just felt rushed and everything fell together a little too convenient for me. I mean, Em is making big life decisions and it still FELT convenient. Em is okay with just leaving behind something I didn't think she would and it made me respect her less. Also, I was shocked and horrified by her family's behavior through it all. I mean, it was just plain wrong!

Ok, so I can't rant about this without a SPOILER! LIGHT UP TO READ!:
It went like 'I'm so mad at you, you kept being my mom instead of my aunt from me' to 5 minutes later: 'Oh, I love you and I'm staying here and basically abandoning the parents who raised me and my sister for you.' I was like WTF??? And then write them a freaking letter? And they called her brave? SERIOUSLY? That's not brave! That's taking the easy way out. This does however not excuse her family's behavior. I mean, seriously, you raise a girl for 17 years and then when she doesn't do what you want her to do, you just ignore her for MONTHS? No, just no. They had no right doing this. I mean, Em is the one who should be mad they kept this from her and instead of dealing with it they give her the silent treatment? SERIOUSLY? And then in the epilogue they all just sort of hug it out?? I mean, how about a little communication, hmm? This family is the QUEEN of avoiding confrontations and it annoyed me. A LOT.

So, I ranted. I feel better now.

Aside from the things that I can't help but rage against, this was a fun read. But the last couple of chapters just didn't work for me, they felt rushed and it felt easy and I'm left feeling a bit deflated. I was so ready to give this a high rating and it's like someone punched a hole in my birthday balloon or something.
But yay for personal growth and cute boys and sweet summer romance and FOOD! Just skip the ending, I'll fill you in, no worries ;)

My rating: 2,5 stars


  1. LOL
    I think I might take you up on that offer of skipping the ending, since I got this in my TBR pile as well.

    1. Seriously, just let me know when you're reading this and tell me where you are and I'll let you know when to stop ;)

  2. Hmm, not sure how I feel about this book since I've been reading mixed reviews. I don't know if I'll read it!