Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Book Review: The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland

Pages: 249
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: May 10, 2012
Source: ARC from Teen Book Scene
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Elizabeth Margaret—better known as Em—has always known what life would contain: an internship at her father’s firm, a degree from Harvard and a career as a lawyer. The only problem is that it’s not what she wants. When she gets the opportunity to get away from it all and spend a month with the aunt she never knew, she jumps at the chance. While there, Em pursues her secret dream of being a chef, and she also learns that her family has kept some significant secrets from her, too. And then there’s Cade, the laid-back local surfer boy who seems to be everything Em isn't. Naturally, she can’t resist him, and as their romance blossoms, Em feels she is living on her own terms for the first time."

Elizabeth Margaret, or Em, has grown up in a wealthy Boston household where her entire life has been mapped out for her by her parents and grandmother.  She will attend Harvard in the fall, study law, and intern at a law firm this summer.  Except.... Em doesn't want to do any of it!  Things change quickly when her long lost aunt sends her an invitation to say with her for a month at her bed and breakfast at the Outer Banks.  Em takes this opportunity and ultimately finds "herself" on this trip.  She pursues her lifelong dream to become a chef, she learns life-altering family secrets, and more importantly, comes out of her shell.  The Summer My Life Began is a fun contemporary read that is about letting go of people's expectations for your life and instead, following your heart.

Em is a sheltered upcoming college freshman.  She really hasn't "lived" at all, because she is too busy taking orders from her family.  When she lives with her Aunt Tilly this all changes and Em starts to live for herself.  Her Aunt Tilly is a fun character.  She's free spirited and pretty much the opposite of her mother. While staying with Tilly, she learns why Tilly is the "black sheep" of the family and other secrets that will unravel her world.  Lastly, Em also meets Cade, the dreamy surfer that works at her aunt's bed and breakfast.   There is more than meets the eye with Cade and he ended up being one of my favorite characters.  It wouldn't be summer without a fun love interest!

The setting of the Outer Banks is perfect for this summer story.  Personally, I love the Outer Banks and was marinating in all of the descriptions. It had me pining for a warm summer breeze and beautiful blue skies.  I'll be interested to see which island served as inspiration for the setting in The Summer My Life Began.

My only issue with this book was the relationships. Although I really enjoyed them, I felt they were lacking at times, especially the dialogue. I knew there were many strong connections between the characters, but at times, I couldn't feel it.  On the other hand, I'm sure my seventh graders will love this story and I plan on putting it on my classroom bookshelf---just in time for summer vacation!  So, if you are looking for a light and fluffy beach read, be sure to check out The Summer My Life Began.  

And check back tomorrow for my interview with Cade, my favorite character in the book!

*Check out Shannon Greenland's website


  1. This sounds like a fun book for summer. I have a review copy but haven't had a chance to read it yet. I've never been to the Outer Banks but I've enjoyed the books I've read that are set there.

  2. I need more summery reads on my shelf - I can't think of any that I own currently! Going to add this to my wishlist...

    =^.^= ComaCalm's Corner =^.^=

  3. Oooo looking forward to your interview with Cade, he was my favorite character too. I enjoyed this one for the most part, like you I didn't feel the connections between the characters either, but it was a fun, quick read:) Definitely a good summer vacation book!

  4. Oh, too bad about the relationships. I might still check this one out, if my library gets it. It does seem like a good, light summer read! :)

    Nice honest review!

  5. It is definitely a fun summer read. I hope you guys enjoy it! Thanks for stopping by, everyone!


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