Title: The Last Summer (Of You and Me)
Author: Ann Brashares
Published: May 2008
Published By: Riverhead Books
Format Read: Kobo, eBook
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Date Read: June 23 2015
On New York’s Fire Island, two very different families kept summer homes near the beach. One large and modern, the other small and humble. These two very different homes housed two best friends: Riley and Paul. Then when Riley’s younger sister Alice was born, she was taken under the older two children’s wings and they became inseparable. The three grew up together, meeting summer after summer to swim, fish, boat and explore the island. However no matter how much time Alice spent with them, her relationship with Paul differed from his and Riley’s. Now in their twenties the two sister’s return to their summer home for yet another season and after several years absent Paul makes his return as well. Only now, it is harder than ever to keep his feelings for Alice subdued, feelings that are more than reciprocated. Meanwhile as their romance blossoms for the first time, Riley’s sudden illness changes the courses of their lives as they knew it.
As a fan of Ann Brashares Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, I was excited for a departure from young adult to adult fiction. I found myself so easily wrapped up in that series that I was looking for that same warmth from The Last Summer (Of You and Me), as well. I think that it must be hard on authors who have success with one book (or series) to move on with something so different. As I was already an Ann Brashares fan, I think that I went into this novel with expectations that were too high. Unfortunately I did not enjoy it as much as I had hoped.
With the majority of the story set during the summer, on an island, it had potential to be beautiful and warm. However the descriptions felt more grey and cold.
The three friends were all very different from each other. Riley was a tom boy who loved the water, Paul a rich and lonely, only child and Alice the beautiful one who trusted too freely. Even though we get glimpses of their childhood and the happier times, I didn’t get a strong knowledge of their friendship. From the books description I expected more of an equal division of point of view between the three, however it is more centred around Paul and Alice. Later when Riley falls ill, we still learn more of how it affects Paul and Alice than it does about the patient’s perspective. I found Paul to be far too possessive of Alice and she deserved better. The bond between the sisters proves to be far stronger relationship, which was one of the only redeeming points that I saw in the story. However, overall I felt like the story lacked any hope at all.
As I slugged through the pages waiting for something of interest to happen, I was stopped in my tracks. I knew from the description that there would be an illness but I wasn’t prepared for how close to home it would strike. Without giving anything away, Riley’s situation is one I know all too well, from personal experience. At this point I was unsure if I could continue reading. I feared that it would be a trigger for my own trauma, but in the end I decided to keep going, after all it is nice to be able to relate to the characters I’m reading about. However I didn’t feel as if it brought me any closer to knowing Riley or being able to understand her. I am still trying to decide if this is a good thing or not. On one hand I am thankful that it didn’t trigger my bad experiences, but on the other hand I still feel a bit let down.
Unfortunately I wouldn’t recommend The Last Summer (Of You and Me), however I am still a fan of Ann Brashares and plan to read more of her books in the future.