Five Summers by Una LaMarche ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: May 16, 2013
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.