This month, I participated in the #Blumealong hosted by Entomology of a Bookworm. Though I have read Judy Blume in the past (and loved her), for some reason Summer Sisters sat on my bookshelf for several years, just gathering dust.
I don't really know why I avoided the book. I think maybe I had a fear of not liking Judy Blume now that I'm older. Or maybe it was knowing that this was a more adult aimed read, not her usual tween style...maybe there was something holding me back there. Whatever the reason, I just couldn't pull the trigger. On more than one occasion, the book traveled down to my nightstand just to eventually find it's way back to the bookshelf unread.
And so I resolved to finally move it from my TBR pile to my "read" shelf. And no sooner than I make that decision than my copy of the book completely and utterly disappeared. Seriously. I have no idea where it went. I turned several rooms in our house upside down looking for it. I texted my best friend and my sister-in-law to see if I had lent it out to one of them. Summer Sisters remained elusive. I finally broke down and got myself an e-copy. Inevitably, now it will show back up sometime in the next few weeks. I can almost promise it.
Last weekend, I sat down for the #24in48 and picked up my Nook to get started. I remained tethered to the wall since I'd managed to let the battery die, but Summer Sisters read like a blur. I stayed up until 3 am on Saturday reading away and then finished the rest of it the next afternoon.
So...how did it go?
Well...how about I give you a little background on what the book is about first?
In the summer of 1977, Victoria Leonard's world changed forever--when Caitlin Somers chose her as a friend. Dazzling, reckless Caitlin welcomed Vix into the heart of her sprawling, eccentric family, opening doors to a world of unimaginable privilege, sweeping her way to vacations on Martha's Vineyard, a magical wind-blown island where two friends became summer sisters...
Now, years later, Vix is working in New York City. Caitlin is getting married on the Vineyard. And the early magic of their long, complicated friendship has faded. But Caitlin has begged Vix to come to her wedding, to be her maid of honor. And Vix knows that she will go--for the friend whose casual betrayals she remembers all too well. Because Vix wants to understand what happened during that last shattering summer. And, after all these years, she needs to know why her best friend--her summer sister--still has the power to break her heart...
Let me just tell you...I really liked this book. I was very pleasantly surprised. The poor thing had gone neglected for so long for absolutely no good reason.
The very first thing I noticed about this book is that right way it feels like a slightly more grown up Judy Blume book. And right now you're thinking, duh...that's because it is. Well, I know that silly. But it just really feels right. It's a nostalgia thing. I forgot how much I liked her writing, but within the first chapter or two, I was right back in that happy place, cuddling up with a good one of her books. Judy just has a way with words.
As I have with most of her characters, I began to feel a connection to Vix fairly early on. She's a smart girl with an unfortunate backstory and I felt for her. I just wanted her to be okay. Her family is poor, her mother is distant and odd, I just wanted her to have a better life.
Vix leaves her life behind very easily over a series of summers after being asked out of the blue to spend the summer with Caitlin. They haven't been friends before. Vix really wasn't even sure Caitlin knew who she was. But Caitlin seems to think that Vix will be a girl who just "gets it". Vix isn't sure what that means, but she knows that she wants to be that girl.
Caitlin's life is an upheaval as well, but in a different way than Vix's. She lives primarily with her mother, who seems to have little need or want for a child, she acts too much like a child herself. But during the summers, Caitlin heads to the Vineyard to live with her father, Lamb, and brother, Sharkey. There's a sense of tainted affluence there.
With Caitlin, I had mixed feelings. She is likable in the sense that she is not afraid to be herself. She is strong and resolute in who she is. For as narcissistic as she is, she can still be a good friend. As their lives go on, Caitlin might become more and more of a mess, but she remains true to who she is--who she has always been. I admired her for that. Beyond being independent, she was a train wreck that you just can't look away from.
As for Vix, I felt that things didn't go the way they should have. I expected better of her. Without providing any spoilers, the best I can say is that I felt like she began to lose herself, becoming someone else, someone who forgot where she came from. I was disappointed in her for that. I thought she had the fortitude to take what she wanted. Instead, I think she played it a little too safe and maybe missed out on some life because of it.
The story was really quite good. The book read fast and I was hooked. I shouldn't have been scared of reading Judy Blume again. She's just as good as she ever was. I will admit that I'm not a big fan of the ending. It seemed too placating, allowing the reader too much freedom in deciding what they want the reality to be. I understand why she did it, but it almost just felt like the easy way out.
Summer Sisters by Judy Blume