Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Review: The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi


The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi
Series: Standalone
Published: April 1st, 2014
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
352 pages (eARC)
Genre: Contemporary young adult/LGBT
Acquired this book: From the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Book Depository || Chapters/Indigo}

{Read my review of My Life After Now}

Ever since her mom found out she was in love with a girl, seventeen-year-old Lexi’s afraid that what’s left of her family is going to fall apart for good.

You are on the road to truth. Help is on the way.

The road signs leading to New Horizons summer camp promise a new life for Lexi—she swears she can change. She can learn to like boys. But denying her feelings is harder than she thinks. And when she falls heads over heels for one of her fellow campers, Lexi will have to risk her mother’s approval for the one person who might love her no matter what.

 
I want to start out by saying I have so much respect for Jessica Verdi. She’s not afraid to push boundaries and write stories that are bold, brave, and different. When I read her debut novel, My Life After Now, I thought ‘the world needs a book like this’ and I feel the same way after reading The Summer I Wasn’t Me. I can’t wait to see what Ms Verdi comes up with next.

After Lexi’s dad dies, her mother falls apart. Things become worse when she finds out Lexi is gay. Hoping to make her mother happy again, Lexi agrees to go to New Horizons - a camp that teaches young people how to beat the ‘sickness’ of homosexuality. *insert initial ragey-ness here*

The whole idea of ‘de-gayifying’, and homosexuality being something you can 'overcome' made me so angry. I spent a good portion of the book with my mouth hanging open in shock and horror at the things that went on at New Horizons. The teens were told that a trauma in their lives caused them to be gay, and the camp focused on the importance of gender roles - girls wearing pink, boys wearing blue, girls being able to cook and clean, and boys being able to play sports and fix things. The idea of homosexuality being a ‘sin’ is nothing new, but these people took it to a whole new level, and it made me both sick and sad, because even though the book is fiction, places like this do exist, and a lot of churches/religious people do hammer those points home.

I really liked Lexi. She wasn’t afraid to be her own person, and she pretty much knew what she wanted from life. I admired her desire to make her mother happy, even though it would have meant changing who she was, living a lie, and possibly never being truly happy herself. She was mature and selfless for someone so young, and she came across as genuine and believable. Lexi’s group at camp consisted of Carolyn, Matthew, and Daniel. They were all well fleshed out, and each of them had something to teach Lexi. I especially loved Matthew - he was funny and caring and not afraid to be himself.

The romance in this book is so sweet. I love the way the characters bonded and grew a friendship that slowly turned into more. The ‘forbidden love’ aspect worked really well because of the situation the characters were in, and it made their interactions all the sweeter, while sometimes having that sexy exciting feeling of doing something you know you’re not supposed to be doing.

The Summer I Wasn’t Me made me feel so much. I spent quite a bit of the book being angry because of the situation Lexi was in, but it made me connect with her and the story even more. There were moments of humour and sweetness to balance the parts that were rage-inducing, heartbreaking, and sickening. This book is powerful and emotional. It’s a must read whether you’ve struggled with who you are or you’re completely comfortable with yourself. It’s full of beautiful messages about acceptance, friendship, and love.  
 
 

Have you read The Summer I Wasn't Me? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? Have you ever done something you really didn't want to/didn't feel quite right about to make someone else happy? Do you read LGBT fiction?

4 comments:

  1. Oh yes! An LGBT book! I haven't read this one before, but it sounds great. Nice review, Marie! :) Thanks for sharing.

    -Kimi at Geeky Chiquitas

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  2. I think I have read at least 3 reviews for this book in the last two days and awww~ I really can't wait to finally read it myself. Aaand I think I'll add My Life After Now to my tbr as well.

    Btw, you should add your review to the link up (as well as enter it into the rafflecopter)!
    http://nijiclovers.blogspot.com/2014/04/lgbt-month-kick-offgiveaway-2014-ya.html

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  3. I don't think I've read a book where a LGBTQ romance was the central focus of the story. I've been seeing this book all over the place and it looks interesting. Thanks for the great review!

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  4. I do love a tale that makes me "feel," so I shall be adding it to my pile.

    My Fiction and Poetry Site
    My Personal Blog

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~Marie

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