Summer of Yesterday by Gaby Triana ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: June 17, 2014
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: time travel, Walt Disney World history, divorce, romance
Format read: Paperback I purchased.
Summary: When Haley meets some friends during a forced Disney World vacation with her dad and his new family, she has another seizure and finds herself at the same resort but in 1982. Her parents are teenagers and vacationing in the same spot, a cute lifeguard named Jason saves her, and, she has no idea how to get back to the future. But does she even want to go back? (Forward?)
Disney World as a setting in a book seems like an Estelle no-brainer, right? Let me assure you… very few authors get it right. As if Gaby Triana’s dedication to Walt Disney didn’t tip me off initially, she gets it — the fandom, the importance of its history, and, most importantly, the details.
As a WDW geek, I could not stop squealing over the details of a now-abandoned River Country water park, basically left to rot. I never had the chance to visit as a kid (my first trip to WDW was in 1996 and my parents aren’t water park people) but Triana brought the park to life for me through Haley’s time traveling, and, once again, I wished I had had the opportunity to experience it.
I’m getting ahead of myself. (See how excited I am!?) Basically, Haley suffers from seizures (she has recently found this out) and has one when she is taking part in a scavenger hunt with new friends at the resort that housed River Country. She breaks in, has her seizure, and suddenly wakes up to 1982. She meets Jason, an adorable lifeguard, who takes pity on her and helps her blend into the background, and discovers that her parents (in their younger forms) are on property with her too.
Triana definitely has that “typical teenager” attitude down when it comes to Haley. She never wanted to go on this vacation in the first place; she’s missing out on hanging with friends and the guy she is crushing on. She has no patience for her dad’s memories of a vintage Disney World. A lot of her anger stems from the fact that she still cannot accept her parent’s divorce, I think. Even though years have passed, she still feels the effects of her family’s breakup.
Because Haley is suddenly privy to the earliest memories of her parent’s courtship, I expected more of an emphasis on this portion of the story. Did I think she would succeed in getting them back together down the line? Not at all. But Summer of Yesterday‘s focus on Jason and his growing relationship with Haley teetered the equilibrium of the book for me. Self-actualization should have won out over romance (as sweet as it was) because while they were great for each other at this exact moment, how could it possibly work in the end? It might sound crazy but balance of the storylines would have made this time travel story a bit more realistic for this reader.
Despite that hiccup, I couldn’t get enough of the book. I may have shed a tear near the end (okay, fine I did) and I closed it, truly appreciating the accuracy of the Disney theme park setting (I even learned a few things!) and how nice it felt to read about a (somewhat complicated) summer love story.