Estelle: Five Summers by Una LaMarche

Five Summers by Una LaMarche ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: May 16, 2013
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 384
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: summer camp, friend reunion, old crushes, secrets
Format read: ARC paperback lent to me by Lena from Addicted 2 Novels. (Thanks!)

Summary: It’s been three years since four best friends have been together at the place where it all started: summer camp. Will secrets (old and new) affect their bond?

In Estelle world, comparing a book to Summer Sisters by Judy Blume and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares is like hitting the jackpot. Those titles have been some of my favorites for years and years now. It’s also kind of scary to see two of your favorite books written on the back of a brand new one because your expectations might skyrocket and the possibility of getting disappointed is so much greater.


While Five Summers didn’t exactly reach the Summer Sisters/Traveling Pants level for me, it did have the same essence of those two classics: the joys and the difficulties of friendships, the years that bring people together and pull them apart, secrets kept that once seemed necessary but risk ruining everything.

I think most of us know that friendships can be rough. Especially when you don’t see each other every single day. (Which is most cases, actually.) So for Emma, Skylar, Maddie, and Jo to create such a bond at 9 years old, spend 5 summers enjoying every moment of summer camp, and then reuniting after not seeing each other for 3 years (and not keeping the best touch)? That’s a lot of time to miss each other, and a lot of time to grow apart.

Through flashbacks and alternating POVs from each of the girls, we get to find how the girls became friends in the first place and where they are now. LaMarche gives each of the them relatable challenges and problems, and I liked that. Anyone could understand feelings of embarrassment, fear of moving forward, working way too hard, and pressure from parents. I did favor Emma and Skylar’s stories best, though. I felt like I was always waiting for their turn to come around again. Their locked in a love triangle (though Emma doesn’t know it) and it’s created some distance between them. I really enjoyed their closeness though and I was really rooting for them to cut the crap, tell the truth, and regain their best friendship again.

The object of this love triangle is Emma’s long-time crush, Adam. I’ll admit. I would have fallen for him too. Utterly charming but so real when he is talking to you one-on-one. What is it about guys like these? After failing to share her true feelings with him on their last day of camp, seeing him 3 years later hits Emma like a ton of bricks. One last chance to make something happen and all those romantic notions, right? Sigh. This portion of the story had me feeling a mix of things: regret, excitement, and anger.

Five Summers was really an enjoyable read for me. I really felt for these friendships, and hoped these girls would make it out of their 3-day reunion to the other side with something stronger. While I didn’t always agree with the structuring of the book (the placement of the flashbacks made it jarring at times and while I understand the sentiment of the last chapter, I didn’t think it was necessary there) and the characters could have used more sculpting to make them feel a bit more different from each other (not just in circumstance but in tone), it still felt fast-paced and kept me interested.

I’m kind of a sucker for a summer camp story, too. So that was just icing on the cake. rather be reading borrow from the library icon

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9 thoughts on “Estelle: Five Summers by Una LaMarche

  1. Hazel Ureta says:

    I need to read this one! I have a weakness for good stories about friends, really. And stories about camp too. I never went to camp and honestly I feel like I missed out a lot because of that so I guess that’s why I read books about it instead.

  2. Cynthia says:

    I had high hopes for this one, it sounds like a really great contemp but I don’t like it when it has several characters and they all sort of sound like the same voice just different circumstances. I might still give it a chance though, since you ended up liking it anyways. Great review Estelle! =)

  3. Jen @ Pop! Goes The Reader says:

    I really love the fact that this novel seems to focus on the friendship between the four girls as opposed to romance. I’ve always found stories about summer camp fascinating, likely because I never went to one myself growing up (I suspect the novelty might wear off rather quickly) I will say that I often struggle with novels in which there is more than one protagonist, as like your experience with Emma and Skylar, I always tend to favour one or two characters and resent the time when I have to read about someone else instead. I think I’ll follow your advice and borrow this one instead of buying it outright as I love the concept but am not sure how much I’ll actually enjoy this one 🙂

  4. Ash @ Paranormal Indulgence says:

    I have a strong feeling that I’m going to enjoy this one since I like friendship stories so much. I hated summer camp and made it my mission in life to try to get out of it when I was growing up, but that could have something do with how sucky the one is in my hometown. Still, I like summer camp stories where I can sort of rewrite those horrible memories with the characters’.

    The relationship with Adam is going to cause me a serious anxiety attack, isn’t it? All those mixed feelings of anger and regret is going to drive me bananas especially when I think I know what you’re trying to say about that bit. I’m going to be so righteously angry on her behalf, I just know it. I’ve bumped this one up to my tbr for this week and I hope I enjoy it!

  5. Amy @ bookgoonie says:

    Im a sucker too. Indian Summer has long made me want to experience the summer camp thing. Sigh. I think I’m a tad old. Summer Camp for 40 year olds would just be sad. Well I guess summer conferences with field trips to 6th Str is all ill have. Kind of sad.

  6. Asheley Tart (@BookwormAsheley) says:

    Ok, I’m stopping before going past the first paragraph to say 1) I’ve never read Summer Sisters (don’t hit me) and 2) I started Traveling Pants today!!! #winning (yes, a hashtag) Okay, this sounds so fun. I like this idea of the love triangle – judge me if you want to – so I just put this one on hold for me at the library. Also, how cute is that cover??? I love it.

  7. Alexa Y. says:

    Well. I’m a sucker for stories about friendship, so I’m inclined to pick this one up! I do love that it’s set at summer camp. And I love that it tells the story of how their friendship started and where it is now. This DEFINITELY sounds like a book I would probably enjoy!

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