Friday 17 August 2018

#CBR10 Book 61: "Someone Else's Summer" by Rachel Bateman

Page count: 320 pages
Rating: 4 stars

Anna was only about a year younger than her sister Storm and spent much of her childhood tagging along after Storm and the boy next door, Cameron. When she started high school, Anna finally find her own friends and became involved in cheer leading, but when Storm dies in a car accident on the evening of her graduation, Anna is left confused and adrift, and Cameron seems to be the only one who understands and who knew Storm as well as her.

When they were children, Storm used to make up summer "bucket lists", although the three of them never properly completed any of them. Looking through Storm's things, Anna finds a notebook with a new list, of things Storm was probably planning on doing that summer. She becomes obsessed with completing this list and persuades Cameron to come along with her. While Anna's aunt warns her that completing the list won't bring Storm back, Anna feels that this is the best way to truly honour her sister's memory.

Turns out that a whole bunch of FYA's swoony beach romance recommendations are also about processing grief or dealing with loss in some way. A full six out of the eight books I've read this summer has one or several of the protagonists getting over the death or loss of (or abandonment by) a loved one. You wouldn't think situations like that would be the best for starting romances, but in these books, that's exactly what happens.

Having lost her beloved sister, Anna sets off on a road trip to complete her sister's "bucket list", accompanied by said sister's very best friend. As they travel to the various locations that Storm wanted to visit and complete the many tasks (all the while documenting every new event with Polaroid pictures to put in the notebook as proof), Anna and Cameron both reminisce and mourn Storm, while growing ever closer romantically. It seems that while Cameron and Storm were inseparable best friends, they were never in love, and Cameron has clearly carried a torch for Anna for a long time.

For much of the book, we spend time only with Anna and Cameron, but there is a supporting cast just "off screen", so to speak, connected to Anna through phone calls and texts. Her best friend is initially very upset that she just up and leaves on the road trip, while her ex-boyfriend is a lot more supportive. Anna's dad gives his blessing for Anna to go on the trip, all the while keeping it from her mother as they go away to a retreat for grieving parents. It's Anna's aunt who is responsible for her while her parents are away, and she has to check in daily by phone. Anna's aunt is very cool and has more insight than Anna is frankly entirely comfortable with.

I didn't know what to expect from this book, but it turned out to be sweet, as well as a bit sad (naturally) and I can't say that I was terribly surprised to discover the big secret that Cameron has been keeping that ends up causing complications for him and Anna towards the end of the book. This is the first book of hers I've read, but based on this, I would not be averse to reading more of Rachel Bateman's YA fiction.

Judging a book by its cover: Before I read this book, I didn't think much of the cover, a slightly blurry photo of a girl on a beach with the title a bit haphazardly scrawled in sharpie. However, considering Anna and Cameron's goal in the book, to capture the memories of their road trip in Polaroids, with this cover clearly a perfect representation of one of the photos, I now take back my early misgivings and give kudos to the publisher instead. This is the opposite of generic "haven't read the story" cover art. This is spot on.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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