Monday, July 15, 2013

Book Review: Five Summers by Una LaMarche

Pages: 384
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: May 16, 2013
Source: NetGalley
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "The summer we were nine: Emma was branded “Skylar’s friend Emma” by the infamous Adam Loring... The summer we were ten: Maddie realized she was too far into her lies to think about telling the truth... The summer we were eleven: Johanna totally freaked out during her first game of Spin the Bottle... The summer we were twelve: Skylar’s love letters from her boyfriend back home were exciting to all of us—except Skylar...Our last summer together: Emma and Adam almost kissed. Jo found out Maddie’s secret. Skylar did something unthinkable... and whether we knew it then or not, five summers of friendship began to fall apart.  Three years after the fateful last night of camp, the four of us are coming back to camp for reunion weekend—and for a second chance. Bittersweet, funny, and achingly honest, Five Summers is a story of friendship, love, and growing up that is perfect for fans of Anne Brashares and Judy Blume's Summer Sisters."
Emma, Jo, Skylar, and Maddie attend Camp Nedoba every summer and are the best of friends.  One summer they make a promise to be good friends and support one another.  Many years later, they aren't the best of friends as they had hoped, but meet up for a camp reunion.  Things start to go haywire for all the girls due to boys (of course!), secrets, and lies.  There's Maddie, who has a secret about her family and hasn't been forthcoming with any of the girls.  Then there's Jo whose Dad runs the camp and everyone views her as being just like her Dad, which doesn't help out in the dating department.  Emma is the resident "good girl" who has a long time crush on Adam, another camp goer, but he is secretly seeing someone else.  Lastly, there's artsy Skylar, who also has issues with her family and feels like a she isn't good enough for her artist father.  All the girls must address their issues and what better place to do that than at their beloved camp?  Una LaMarche's debut, Five Summers, is a story about friendship and the difficult hands that sometimes life deals us.  Fans of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series will gravitate to this similar read.

I connected the most with Emma as she seemed the most relatable to me in Five Summers.  Readers get to know her through first person narration and flashbacks to camp when she was younger.  Her obsession with Adam is the main focus and during the reunion weekend, she wants to spark things back up with him.  She had the opportunity to kiss him many years ago, but didn't take it and has regretted it since then.  But Adam is pretty much a player and is seeing someone else.  If Emma knew who he was seeing, it would break her heart and this secret is dying to come to the surface.

The other girls are interesting enough in Five Summers, but not as much as Emma's storyline in my opinion.  The narration also jumps to flashbacks to former summers focusing on each girl as well as third-person narration of the reunion's events.  It's a bit jumpy and I would have preferred the focus narrowed a bit more.  I think the LaMarche was trying to make it similar to Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants in that we get into the head of each girl; but ultimately, in combination with the many flashbacks, this made for a choppy read.

The setting of Camp Neroba was a lot of fun in Five Summers and this was my favorite part of the book. I loved reading about their adventures from day to day and what they did at camp in the past as young girls.  I wish more young adult "summertime" books would take place at camp.  There's something magical about it and the possibilities seem endless.

Five Summers is geared toward younger teen readers and I can see middle grade females who are looking to fill a void left from Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants liking this story as well as the idea of friendship conquering all.  But my bottom line: Although Five Summers is a cute read, I think Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants does this concept a bit better.


  1. Hmmmm. This type of choppy read is always problematic for me. I tend to just want to stay with one character in particular, in this case likely Emma, so following the other girls and jumping back in time would make this story a challenge to read. I think I'll pass, but as always I loved reading your review!

  2. That narration sounds a bit messy - too many characters / flashbacks for my tastes. Love the sound of the setting, though!

    "I wish more young adult "summertime" books would take place at camp. There's something magical about it and the possibilities seem endless." - agreed!!

    Great review!


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