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The Goodbye Summer ~Sarah Van Name

January 20, 2019

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Genre: Young Adult/ Contemporary Fiction
Sourcebooks Fire
ISBN: 9781492677031
352 pages
Source: Publisher via Netgalley

Publication Date: May 7, 2019

I received a free advanced reader copy of this book from Netgalley and Sourcebooks Fire in exchange for an honest review. All commentary is my own.

It’s the summer before senior year and 16-year-old Caroline has some big decisions to make. Her nineteen-year-old boyfriend, a grocery bagger at the local market, has plans of running off into the sunset at the end of the summer. Her parents, oblivious to this ridiculous plan, would obviously prefer she finish school and go to college in a year. And her brand-new work friend, overachiever and perpetually peppy Georgia, would just like Caroline to slow her roll. Caroline has some decisions to make and, for a few of those choices, she’s running out of time. 

Y’all, I did not love this book and I can tell you a few reasons why.

First of all, there are some very questionable statutory/consent issues with a fifteen-year-old dating an eighteen-year-old (and for the majority of the book, they’re both a year older, but still). I know that in many states, that’s technically ok, but it still made me really uncomfortable for so much of the book.

The eighteen-year-old in question is also a major deadbeat with no aspirations and a serious case of Peter Pan syndrome. He just wasn’t likable. Because the protagonist was likable, this made her dude of choice that much more infuriating because I just wanted to scream “Why are you with him? I don’t even get it!” for the bulk of the story. He’s immature, despite being several years older than she is. He’s also jealous, petty, and kind of manipulative. And, again, not even age-related, there are some pretty hardline consent issues happening.

Maybe it’s just my line of work but there are so many red flags waving in the wind, I could barely see the story.

And, kind of a bit further down the list, there is the discomfort of priorities. Mr. Peter Pan runs this nonstop campaign for Caroline to ditch college and live on a farm. Which is fine, but there’s also a lot of manipulation in it. I know not everyone goes to college. Not everyone can, nor does everyone have the desire to. Again, it’s the older, directionless person pressuring the younger, conflicted person that working in a coffee shop and living with said boyfriend’s dad is a perfectly good alternative to even finishing high school.

I also know that many people would look at the story and say “Oh, sixteen-year-olds are confused and they don’t know what they want.” Listen. I was sixteen, once, and I didn’t once dream of running off with an eighteen-year-old grocery bagger, thinking that we would live happily ever after. There was just a lot of suspension of disbelief necessary to really make the story work.

That said, there are some redeeming moments in the book and while I didn’t love it, I also didn’t hate it. I think that if I’d maybe had some different experiences as a teenager, this entire plot would have felt nostalgic, rather than creepy. You’ll have to make the decision for yourself when the book comes out, this May.

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