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A Beginner’s Guidebook to Austin via Lovestruck Summer

Back in August, Estelle visited Austin (!!!). On her flight, she re-read Melissa Walker’s Lovestruck Summer, which she’s raved to me about so, so much (and as she did in her review). Seeing as it’s set in my city, Austin, TX, I knew I needed to read it, too. Plus I just adore Melissa’s writing. While Estelle was in flight, I joined her in reading so that we could explore Austin through Melissa’s lens. With the digital release of Lovestruck Summer, we decided to tour Austin just as Quinn would have as she interned there for the summer.

First, you are probably wondering what Lovestruck Summer is all about, right? Quinn is a super music fanatic who bamboozles her way into a killer internship at a small music label in Austin for the summer. The job is not exactly what she envisioned and neither is living with her super girlie cousin and cross-dressing dog. The rugged cowboy college student next door, Russ, is totally determined to get Quinn off the couch and off to explore the finer parts of Austin.

So buckle your seatbelts! Estelle and I are taking you on a tour of Austin today! We’ll be chatting about the book, sharing photographs from around the city that we took together of specific landmarks or favorite hot-spots, and some of our favorite quotes to encourage you to download Lovestruck Summer ASAP!

Lovestruck Summer Melissa Walker 01

NOTE: This guy isn’t specifically mentioned in Lovestruck Summer, but he’s iconic around the University of Texas campus. Bevo (the UT Longhorn mascot) stands proudly in the parking lot near the Co-Op, the university bookstore, greeting all that come and go.

Lovestruck Summer Melissa Walker 13

“Penny is the newly elected president of a powerful University of Texas sorority–The UT Tri-Pi’s. I half thought she was kidding about the sorority thing, but when we walk into the condo, I realize that she is dead serious. Above the faux marble mantle, there are metallic purple letters that say Pi Pi Pi. Atop every surface in the living room–from end tables to windowsills–are framed photos showcasing the electric smiles of groups of girls in rainbow-colored dresses with cookie-cutter guys at their sides.”
Walker, Melissa (2009-05-05). Lovestruck Summer (p. 11). . Kindle Edition.
NOTE: So this isn’t exactly the Tri-Pi house Quinn’s cousin Penny was the President of, but it seemed fitting when we walked past it off-campus.

Lovestruck Summer Melissa Walker 02

“I found out that the guy with the weird high voice is Daniel Johnston, a native son of Texas who inspired musicians like Kurt Cobain in the early 90s. Daniel’s an artist, too, and I even bought a t-shirt with a design he drew of a little alien frog who’s saying, “Hi how are you?” It’s kind of an Austin thing, the girl at the store told me.”
Walker, Melissa (2009-05-05). Lovestruck Summer (pp. 76-77). . Kindle Edition.
NOTE: this wall is at the intersection of 21st and Guadalupe near the UT campus.

Lovestruck Summer Melissa Walker 03

“When I reach campus, my water’s almost gone. I find a drinking fountain and re-fill it before I spread out on the first big stretch of grass I find. Under a tree. I can’t risk getting sun, and I’ve never been into tanning. Besides, did I mention it’s a thousand degrees outside? It is. There are lots of students around, but I’m sure the crowds are much bigger during the year. Summer is always the best season in a college town, when the student population thins out a little.”
Walker, Melissa (2009-05-05). Lovestruck Summer (p. 44). . Kindle Edition.
NOTE: I, M, attended UT and as I was reading, I imagined this would be the area Quinn escaped to. This area of campus is referred to as the Six-Pack and during the school year, it’s covered with students in between classes who are either sleeping or studying. Oh, and yes, it definitely felt like 1000 degrees on the day we were there. SO HOT.

Lovestruck Summer Melissa Walker 04

Lovestruck Summer Melissa Walker 06

“On Friday night, I have plans to meet Jade and Sebastian at Dirty’s. I go to Jade’s house first to pick her up–she doesn’t live too far from The Drag, which is this main strip near campus, and it’s definitely my turn to drive.”
Walker, Melissa (2009-05-05). Lovestruck Summer (p. 122). . Kindle Edition.
NOTE: The Drag is a stretch of Guadalupe St. by campus that is packed with hole-in-the-wall restaurants, coffee shops, the University Co-Op, tons of graffitied walls, and students constantly moving about. We walked down a large stretch and may or may not have stopped into Urban Outfitters to shop for a little while (and cool off in their AC).

Lovestruck Summer Melissa Walker 07Lovestruck Summer Melissa Walker 08Lovestruck Summer Melissa Walker 09Lovestruck Summer Melissa Walker 10Lovestruck Summer Melissa Walker 11Lovestruck Summer Melissa Walker 12

Lovestruck Summer Melissa Walker-14

“When Russ parks the truck in the parking lot of the Four Seasons Hotel , I give him a skeptical eye. He grabs an old umbrella out of the back cab, confusing me further. The sky is crystal clear.”
Walker, Melissa (2009-05-05). Lovestruck Summer (pp. 117-118). . Kindle Edition.

“So there are probably a million bats under that bridge right now.”
“You mean like flying minions of Dracula?” I ask. “That kind of bat?”
“I wouldn’t bring vampires into this,” says Russ. “But yes, that kind of bat.”
“I’m intrigued,” I admit. “Go on.”
“Well, at sunset, they all come out to look for food ,” he says. “They stream over the water and fill the sky with black wings. It’s incredible! It’s like this giant cloud of creatures hovering over you.”
Walker, Melissa (2009-05-05). Lovestruck Summer (pp. 118-119). . Kindle Edition.

Lovestruck Summer Melissa Walker-18

“Even without the bats flying, this time around day’s end is stunning. There is a brief golden moment that seem like it comes straight out of a cinematographer’s filmic dream–the sparkling glow on the water, the bright green of the grass under the rose-hued sky. And Russ’s hair with a shimmer of sundown in it. It’s like a song.”
Walker, Melissa (2009-05-05). Lovestruck Summer (p. 121). . Kindle Edition.

Lovestruck Summer Melissa Walker-19

NOTE: This guy was sitting on a little dock overlooking Lady Bird Lake, headphones plugged into his ears, and singing at the top of his lungs (extremely off-key). We couldn’t help but pause and discuss his lack of humility and how fitting it was that he was so into his music…especially considering how musically focused Lovestruck Summer is. He was just begging to be photographed, really.

Lovestruck Summer Melissa Walker-20

NOTE: We walked down near the Four Seasons hotel where Russ and Quinn would have stood to watch the bats, but another great view is from the Congress Bridge. These people were lined up along the bridge and were able to watch the bats exit the bridge right under their feet.

Lovestruck Summer Melissa Walker-16Lovestruck Summer Melissa Walker-17

Estelle: Austin is one of my favorite places to visit. Not only is the atmosphere awesome and the people are so incredibly nice but two of my best friends live there! (You know one of them.) Before I met up with Magan during my trip, my friend took me tubing in a river. (Another moment included in Melissa’s book.) I highly recommend it, even if you look a little funny trying to hop into your tube. It was so relaxing and a nice way to drink sangria with friends.

There were a few times we kept bumping into 3 girls on tubes and finally just gave up and started talking to them. Such lovely people who were very excited about me visiting and started listed “must-dos” of Austin. I felt like a broken record because EVERYTHING they mentioned was in Melissa’s Lovestuck Summer. I already felt in the know. So this book can definitely be a beacon for anyone visiting this super cool place for the first time, or even a checklist for what you want to accomplish on future trips. I felt super connected to Quinn. (And even lent my copy of Melissa’s book to my other Austin best friend.)

Magan: So, so much of Lovestruck Summer felt incredibly authentic. I kept a running list while I was reading of locations I was familiar with that I wanted to take Estelle. There were, unfortunately, a few that we weren’t able to hit up (like the beautiful San Jose Hotel on South Congress), but I think it’s kind of nice that we have a few places to look forward to going together. Maybe next time we’ll plan a little better and it won’t be August and we won’t be sweating our way through the trip!

Aside from all the amazing landmarks mentioned in this awesome book, the music scene is incredibly inspiring. I wanted to get out of the house and listen to more music. I wanted to look up every band that was mentioned (even if some of them were made up). I’m not really sure why I didn’t read Lovestruck Summer sooner. Absolutely, absolutely put it on your to-read list. Or if you’re feeling wild, take a moment to download it for your Kindle. It’s only $3.99 and well worth the price!

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December 27, 2013 - 11:23 am

Estelle's End of the Year Survey (So Long 2013), Estelle - […] was also a ton of fun to do this Austin Tour through the eyes of Lovestruck Summer, an older novel by Melissa Walker. I loved that Magan and I could work on it side by side, and also […]

November 7, 2013 - 12:51 am

Colleen - AHHH MY SCHOOL. Hook’em horns. This is awesome, I’m totally going to read that book now and squeal at every reference.

November 4, 2013 - 5:45 pm

Alexa Y. - Austin looks like such an amazing place! I definitely want to go there for a visit someday. Out of everything that you guys have included in this post, I think I would want to go tubing! There’s something about a river on a lazy summer day that seems pretty darn appealing.

November 4, 2013 - 8:22 am

Heather@The Flyleaf Review - Such a great post! I read Lovestruck Summer last year and adored it- I have talked it up to many a friend. Love that you visited many of the sites mentioned in the book and shared them with all of us:)

November 2, 2013 - 10:58 pm

Dahlia Adler - LOVE this post! I’ve never been to Austin, but LOVESTRUCK SUMMER is one of my favorite reads and I love the way you’ve brought a whole new life to it here! This is so awesome!

November 1, 2013 - 4:07 pm

katy - I’m from Oklahoma, and I’ve been to various places in Texas but never Austin and I always want to go there! It seems like a lot of fun. Love all the pictures! I’ve never read anything by Melissa Walker, but it looks like I should!

November 1, 2013 - 12:22 pm

Judith - Eee, I love this post, ladies! Such a fun idea. The pics are gorgeous! This is the kind of thing I sometimes feel obligated to do when books take place in Amsterdam. Anyway, I hadn’t heard of the book before (what else is new?) so I must check it out. 🙂

November 1, 2013 - 6:41 am

Nancy Walker - LOVED reading and looking at this.. REALLY neat! WEll done …Nancy

October 31, 2013 - 2:07 pm

Lena @ Addicted 2 Novels - Ahhh, I love this post! All the gorgeous photographs, quotes, etc. It’s perfect in so many different ways!

October 31, 2013 - 9:57 am

Ginger @ GReads! - How fun is this post?! I love all your pictures (especially the dude randomly singing his heart out, hehe). I read Lovestruck Summer a few years ago & absolutely adored it!! Glad to see it being mentioned more.

October 30, 2013 - 9:58 pm

Maggie @ Just a Couple More Pages - First, why have I never heard of this book?!?! It sounds amazing.

Second, I LOVE Austin. I used to go several times a year for my old job and I always tried to stretch the trip out as long as possible so I could eat, listen to music, and pretty much just spend time in Austin. I’m so sad I have no reason to visit (and no free flight!) any more. If UT had the type of graduate program I want to do I would go there in a heartbeat!

October 30, 2013 - 7:44 pm

Melissa @ Writer Grrl Reads - I love this post so much! Except one thing: there aren’t any pictures of your two smiling faces on your adventure! And that made me a little sad ;P

But aside from that, I have to agree with the essence of this post — it is SO cool to read a book that takes place where you live, and then even more wonderful to experience the book in real life! I read Wild Awake over the summer, which takes place in Vancouver, but in the sketchier parts of town that I’m not quite comfortable visiting. But another book that immediately jumps to mind is Kit Person’s Awake & Dreaming that takes place in my hometown. That book is magical and special to me, but some of that magic definitely comes from the fact that the setting is so real to me.

October 30, 2013 - 1:55 pm

Tammy - I once was told by a lady in Austin “God gets his mail here”, now that’s love for the city you live in.

October 30, 2013 - 9:35 am

alice-jane - This post is really original and interesting! I’ve never been to Texas but it’s definitely neat to know that the book had real life correlations!

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