Estelle: Summer of Yesterday by Gaby Triana

Summer of Yesterday by Gaby TrianaSummer of Yesterday by Gaby Triana ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: June 17, 2014
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 256
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.

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Estelle: My Best Friend, Maybe by Caela Carter

My Best Friend Maybe by Caela CarterMy Best Friend, Maybe by Caela Carter ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: June 3, 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 352
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: senior year of high school, summer, Greece, friendships, parent/kid relationships
Format read: ARC paperback from Bloomsbury. (Thanks!)

Summary: Colette and Sadie were once inseparable, and then suddenly they weren’t. With no explanation, Sadie stopped speaking to Colette so it’s a little bit of a jolt when, after 3 years of radio silence, Sadie asks Colette to come with her family to a wedding in Greece in a few weeks. While she already has volunteer work lined up with her boyfriend on a trip she raised money for, Colette is desperate for excitement and adventure. Life has been feeling so dull lately, and she’s curious about Sadie, their friendship breakup, and what a few days in Greece could do for her. So she says yes.

I think no matter how inseparable two people are, how much fun together, how many memories they make with one another, there is always some kind of difference between the two. Even before Colette and Sadie stopped being friends out of nowhere, Colette was feeling it. Sadie was concerned with how she looked and interested in boys, and Colette knew she wasn’t there yet. It was a small crack in the foundation, one that could have easily been worked through except for the big mysterious thing that causes the two to go from peas in a pod to total strangers for 3 years.

How would you feel if your ex-best friend appeared out of nowhere and asked you to take a trip to Greece? Would you go?

Colette is not an easy character to understand; she lives her life a certain way, a product of her parent’s upbringing. Her mom who urges her to remain chaste, to remain protected and covered up while her dad just blurs into the background of her life, never speaking up. I believe Colette’s parents had good intentions. They wanted their daughter to grow up to be good with boundaries, and have only the best influences infiltrate her life. Instead Colette is insecure in her own skin, feels like any decision that will not garner the approval of her parents is “bad”, and has tiptoed through her high school life being very careful not to experience too much of anything.

Her day-to-day life has grown to be so black and white (especially after Sadie has left it) and she is yearning for some gray.

Freedom. Adventure. Fun. All of these words are synonymous with Sadie. This was how they balanced each other out. So it’s not a surprise that Colette wants to ditch her summer plans (volunteer work in another country with her long-time boyfriend) and see Greece and, most importantly, figure out why Sadie left her. For the first time in a long time, Colette defies many people to do what she wants. (Though her support comes from an unexpected place; I liked this choice.)

Caela Carter did an exceptional job painting a portrait of Greece: the beauty of the water, the food, the vineyards, the hot water near the volcano. It was exactly like I was there alongside Colette as she spent time with Sadie’s family — people she believed were her family until they weren’t anymore. It’s not entirely paradise; against this gorgeous backdrop, Colette is feeling constant tension with the family, knows Sadie is keeping many somethings from her, and is afraid she made the wrong choice and fractured relationships at home for no good reason.

I like the messy books. I like when we are privy to ALL the parts of the characters. These books are near and dear to me because they are truly representative of real life. We don’t all see things in the same way. We often don’t understand the reasons why people do things the way they do. People can surprise us: in good and bad ways. I applaud Carter for thrusting us into this unsteady friendship. Colette missed Sadie; she wanted to patch things up. Sadie obviously still felt she could trust Colette or she never would have asked her on this trip. But could it be more than just a trip? (Sometimes friendships sound a lot like relationships, don’t they?)

Despite the heaviness of the conflicts and secrets in My Best Friend, Maybe, I gobbled this one up. Read it in under 24 hours. I had to see how Greece would change Colette, get her thinking on her own without constant pressure from her parents. I had to know if Colette and Sadie’s friendship had anything left after all these years and after this trip. Plus, there’s a sweet romance that felt just right. I think young adult books sometimes underestimate how hard it is for kids to break away from their parents; it’s impossible for us to share the same beliefs and constantly agree on how to live our lives. How moving forward has nothing to do with the level of respect or love we have for those parents. In addition to that, it’s not so often we see two best friends break up and be granted a second chance to be truthful with one another.

My Best Friend, Maybe did that + then some. It was thought-provoking, tough, visually beautiful, and certainly made me a Caela Carter fan.

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Blast from the past: Magan reviews Caela Carter’s ME HIM THEM AND IT  (now out in paperback)