Title: The Summer I Found You
Author: Jolene Perry
In short: sweet, touching, and just the right depth. Exactly what I’m looking for in YA contemporary.
Kate’s dream boyfriend has just broken up with her and she’s still reeling from her diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. Aidan planned on being a lifer in the army and went to Afghanistan straight out of high school. Now he’s a disabled young veteran struggling to embrace his new life. When Kate and Aidan find each other neither one wants to get attached. But could they be right for each other after all?
The Summer I Found You by Jolene Perry is a wonderful addition to YA contemporary. The story follows Kate, a high school senior who’s struggling with losing her boyfriend, and her diabetes, and Aidan, a nineteen-year-old veteran who’s sent home after losing an arm. Like all good YA contemporary, this story has a perfectly balanced mix of self-discovery and romance, and combined with its likeable characters and interesting story-line, The Summer I Found You is a great story all around. In a genre that can get too heavy as well as too light, this novel fits into the class of funny but still thought-provoking, which is exactly what I look for in contemporary YA.
As a teenager, it was easy to relate to the characters’ struggles with who they are and what they want to do in the daunting future. Sometimes, it can take one moment or one person to put you on the path that’s for you, and this novel captures that essence wonderfully. Denial and acceptance is another major theme. The lucid, straightforward prose is complimented by Kate and Aidan’s characters—not only are they immensely likeable and great narrators, but they are also markedly human, and that’s perhaps what makes them such good characters. With Kate, the author avoids the popular cheerleader archetype and the loner archetype—Kate is much more like a real person than a lot of other characters. She looks down at cheerleaders, but she still goes to parties. She is at neither end of the spectrum, and that makes her far easier to relate to. The only confusion I ever had about Kate was her no-filter blabbermouth ways. It seemed unclear as to whether Kate was always like that, or only in front of Aidan, which struck me as a bit hard to believe. Aidan himself is very raw, but not brooding – he is the essence of someone whose purpose has been taken from them. Even the supporting characters were special in their own way—not quirky enough to be unreal, but memorable all the same.
The story’s plot is equal parts heartbreaking and humorous, stitched together with the author’s excellent writing. I think Jolene Perry is an author to watch, and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for more of her books.
I received a free galley of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.