Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

Someone Else’s Summer, by Rachel Bateman


3 stars

*An ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*

Anna’s always idolized her older sister, Storm. So when Storm dies in a tragic car accident on the night of her high school graduation, Anna is completely lost and her family is torn apart. That is, until she finds Storm’s summer bucket list and decides to honor her sister by having the best summer ever—which includes taking an epic road trip to the coast from her sleepy Iowa town. Setting out to do everything on Storm’s list along with her sisters best friend Cameron—the boy next door—who knew that Storm’s dream summer would eventually lead to Anna’s own self-discovery?

I hate “3 stars”. It’s like my go-to rating when I’m conflicted on any book, and for most I actually can’t pin a proper rating on them, hence the influx of 3 stars, 3.25, 3.5, whatever. But, guys, I’m not conflicted this time (that sounded really dramatic, haha). Someone Else’s Summer has a lot of elements that I love; a road trip, self-discovery, and development of a romance whilst this whole fiasco. I think there are only a few books that have survived on that front and adding a loss of a loved one just makes it harder to execute. Interestingly, while Someone Else’s Summer succeeds in the fluffy and light genre, it falls extremely flat in the character department.

The themes presented in this book were present and easy to float through. I loved the trio of Anna, Storm, and Cameron and their adventures together, as well as Anna’s idolization and love for her sister. Throughout the story Anna discovers things she never knew about Storm, as well as her own identity. After years of following Storm around and relying on her, Anna has a hard time figuring out what she truly wants in life. I thought that aspect was pretty similar to a lot of real sister-sister relationships, and Anna’s reluctant attitude to cope with her pain was relatable. I also thought the emotional presence of Storm was well-done, and the focus on “moving on” was not distracted by Storm’s memory at all times. The road trip itself deviates from the main theme of the story, which was why it was difficult to get through that narrative. Also, for the second half of the book, there was hardly any trip, it was just Cameron and Anna making out (spoiler alert! haha, not really). The bucket list contains items like, “kiss in the rain”, “go skinny dipping”, “talk all day with a British accent”, which are a tad trope-y, but fit well with the context of the story, I suppose. My biggest complaint with this plot would be that it was very typical and didn’t deviate much from the usual road trip story. While there is a twist at the end, the overall goal of the novel is more focused on the romance rather than Anna and Cameron’s road to healing.

I’m surprised I actually liked Anna and Cameron together but it’s the truth. Yes, at times I felt like they were too tumblr-y and cheesy, but they were cute for the most part, and I love their complications and struggles to somehow honor Storm yet be in love with each other. I couldn’t go that deep into them as couple due to my lack of interest in them individually and their lack of personality (and dialogue, all they did was kiss), but they aren’t unlikable and certainly not the worst part of this book.

The characters are the worst part of this book. Anna is a bit better than the rest (she had to be), her emotions were realistic and relevant, but her personality is so typical and almost superficial sounding. In fact, that was my main issue with this whole cast, they have no depth. They’re practically card-board cutouts, Cameron is the boring nice guy, Piper is the peppy best friend who gets upset easily (really easily), Jovani is the awkward ex-boyfriend, and Aunt Morgan is the cool aunt that constantly covers for you. Maybe I’m just depressed but even the random side characters were uncharacteristically happy and friendly to Anna and Cameron. These two are making friends with everyone they meet and I’m like, strangers were never this nice to me????

Overall, Someone Else’s Summer was a pretty light and easy read, and I would recommend if you’re looking for a cute romance only. If depth and emotion is what you seek, I would recommend Please Ignore Vera Dietz or How To Save A Life instead, they both deal with a loss and display a much more realistic path to healing and self-discovery, with beautifully written characters as well.