The Summer I Found You by Jolene Perry ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: March 1, 2014
Publisher: Albert Whitman Teen
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: army veteran, diabetes, break ups, friendship
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley. (Thanks!)
Summary: Kate’s longtime boyfriend has broken up with her out of nowhere and her big secret continues to wreak havoc on her life because she can’t get it under control. When Kate meets Aidan, an army vet who lost his arm in Afghanistan, she can’t control her urge to say whatever pops in her head and she feels like they have something in common, and could help each other. While Aidan is unsure of his next steps, he’s surprisingly taken with Kate and welcomes her friendship, especially when he can’t face the tasks he should be focusing on.
I’m going to be upfront and tell you that despite the title (and beautiful cover) this book does not take place during the summer or have a scene that takes places at a beach. I’m not sure whether to call it a marketing gimmick or just a glaring error but without the ocean or a tale of summer loving, Jolene Perry’s book is really addicting, subtly sexy, and filled with two interesting characters.
Told in a dual POV style, we quickly learn that Kate has been diagnosed with diabetes and unless she can keep it under control, the consequences could be fatal. Despite the many warnings from doctors and her parents, this senior in high school continues to ignore the problem. This was just a personal annoyance but because of Kate’s inability to grasp her condition and desire to keep it under wraps from just about everyone, she felt a bit immature to me. I’m not saying this wasn’t a realistic portrayal. I believe it was but I couldn’t imagine being someone who had no after school commitments and still couldn’t find the time to understand her diagnosis. (Stacey McGill fell into some bad habits like this in the Baby-Sitters Club series too.)
In addition to Kate dealing with all of her emotions surrounding diabetes, her longtime boyfriend drops a bomb and breaks up with her out of nowhere. She’s totally heartbroken, even though she knew moving on to college soon would have probably resulted in a breakup anyway but still. I didn’t blame her for being crushed. As a result, her best friend, Jenn, reintroduces Kate to her cousin, Aidan. He’s recently returned from the war where he was severely injured. Now he’s living with no plans for the future, with one arm instead of two, and he’s hiding out in his aunt and uncle’s house.
Aidan’s struggles with life after war felt so real. He’s dealing with nightmares, a list of things he wants to accomplish, and also the stares of people who notice his missing arm and the silence from others who aren’t sure how to breach the subject. So it was actually pretty helpful that Kate would blurt out just about anything in his presence because I think Aidan just needed to be real with someone in order to anchor him to his life.
I liked how Kate and Aidan’s stories mirrored each other (even when it was a little too much) because you got the feeling they understood and could help each other eventually. Not too mention, Aidan thought she was cute and Kate thought Aidan was hot plus Kate kept doing this “omg I really said that, didn’t I” thing that I totally do when I’m flustered and blushing over boys too. But as much as he is confiding in her, she’s still holding back… and, as a reader, you just wonder when that’s going to blow up and change the course of the story.
This book is about a lot more than two lost people coming together… it’s about finding the strength in yourself to make appropriate and necessary changes in your life. To stop avoiding the hard stuff. Perry also does a great job of slipping in family issues and solid friendships; for such a compact book, I had a great grasp on Aidan and Kate’s separate lives and each subplot was given an appropriate amount of attention and detail. I was so invested I actually wouldn’t have minded if the story was a little longer, and certain situations were explored more deeply.
Even so, I was totally smitten.