Elizabeth Margaret has been on the Ivy League track since birth. The summer after she graduates high school, she has plans to intern at her father’s law office before heading off to Harvard to be pre-law. When an opportunity from a long-lost aunt presents itself–and offers Em a chance to escape her regimented life for a summer of sun and fun, she jumps at it. Once at her aunt’s hotel, Em discovers that living life without so many restrictions is more freeing than she ever imagined.
Something about reading this book was similar to reading a Sweet Valley High novel. There wasn’t a lot of depth here, and while it was absolutely readable–the pages flew by–everyone and everything in it felt too much like a cardboard cutout of what a character or plot point was supposed to be. While the beginning of the book hinted at some promise, the book’s execution didn’t deliver.
Part of the problem was that none of the book’s characters were developed enough. Certainly not Em’s strict, upper-crusty family, and certainly not the characters who populated the island Em spends her summer on. All of this could have been tempered somewhat if Em herself had seen some character development, but there’s none of that to be found here. Throwing in a hobby does not a fleshed-out protagonist make.
The anticipated romance is sweet and fairly innocent, and it will work well especially for younger readers. Cade is a pretty classic surfer-boy-local-hunk stock character, and his expected family dramas will have more experienced readers rolling their eyes. However, the younger crowd will likely eat this summer romance up with a spoon. It’s all very sweet and quite chaste.
While the romance will entice the younger set, the book’s obvious plot twists feel too predictable. From the moment Em stepped on the island, I had the book’s big reveal figured out. I kept hoping to be wrong, but I wasn’t. A too-tidy resolution make the book frothy where it should have some heft, and left me feeling disappointed.
That being said, it’s an acceptable summer read, appropriate for the younger-YA audience (who will appreciate reading about an older teen). The light summer romance makes this a good choice for a beach read.
The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland. Speak: 2012. Electronic galley accepted for review via NetGalley.