All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: The Summer I Found You – Jolene Perry

on March 1, 2014

Summer I Found YouThe Summer I Found You
Joelene Perry
Albert Whitman Teen
2014, 256p
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Kate’s life is disintegrating before her eyes. She’s still not coping with her diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes a year ago and now her perfect boyfriend has just broken up with her. He says it’s simply because of the fact that they’re going to different colleges next year but Kate knows that he already has someone new. She doesn’t know how to deal with the fact that he’s not her boyfriend anymore and she has to see him everywhere. He’s convinced they can still be friends but Kate isn’t sure about that.

Aidan planned on making a career out of the army. However on a tour of Afghanistan a bomb put an end to that when he lost an arm. Now back home and living in the apartment above his aunt and uncle’s garage, Aidan is utterly lost. He has a list of things that he knows he needs to work through but he just can’t seem to get going on it. He can’t sleep and when he does, he has nightmares. He’s learning about living with only one arm and trying to get things done that other people take for granted.

When Kate and Aidan begin hanging out neither of them really wants anything serious. Kate knows she keeps putting her foot in her mouth with Aidan but the thing is, he doesn’t seem to mind. At least she doesn’t ignore the elephant in the room, unlike pretty much everyone else. Kate and Aidan could be perfect for each other but Kate is still keeping secrets from Aidan… and they could have serious consequences.

I really enjoy reading YA contemporaries that tackle interesting issues and this one seems to take a stab at two of them. Aidan was caught in a bomb during a routine patrol of the perimeter of their compound. His sergeant was killed and he sustained severe wounds, losing an arm. He’s returned back to the States and has moved in with his aunt and uncle (the parents of Kate’s best friend) in order to begin putting his life back together. Aidan planned to make a career out of the military and he mourns the loss of that, of his identity. I thought a lot of Aidan’s scenes were really very good, particularly when he has to figure out how to do something with one hand, in front of someone. He has a car that he really loves but it’s a shift and he’s no longer able to drive it. He can drive an automatic though, so he still has some sense of freedom. His disability and benefits haven’t kicked in yet and he’ll also get a college degree paid for courtesy of the government so he has a lot of options, the problem is that he just can’t make a decision and figure out where he wants to go next. I think that’s understandable – in fact I think Aidan has had very little time to adjust to being nineteen and disabled. He’s dealing with guilt that he was the one who survived when he didn’t have the family connections that his sergeant did.

I don’t know anyone with Type 1 diabetes so to be honest, I don’t know what it’s like to be diagnosed with it and I don’t know an awful lot about what you need to do to maintain it other than giving insulin shots if required. However Kate is very, very bad at managing her diabetes and she seems to just think that if she ignores it, it will go away. That isn’t going to happen of course and I’d expect that attitude from someone a bit younger than Kate who is old enough to grasp the consequences of ignoring an illness. Her parents are worried about her inability to manage it (she pranged her mother’s car because she had a dizzy spell) and they keep trying to impress upon her the seriousness of her situation, but she really doesn’t seem to get it. Even when they tell her that they don’t think she’s ready to move away from home interstate for college if she cannot manage her diabetes, Kate doesn’t get it. She just thinks they’re being unreasonable when really she’s the one being ridiculous. She also keeps her diabetes from Aidan and although on some level I understand her reasons, it’s also very selfish. If something goes wrong when she’s with him (and given how bad she is at managing it, it’s rather obvious that’s going to happen) then he needs to know what to do. And there’s also the fact of hey, the guy only has one arm so he is already disadvantaged when it comes to being able to help. Add in him not having a clue what condition she has and what is happening and what to do and you have a recipe for disaster. However I do think that having the boy make her realise her behaviour could kill her and also affects other people around her, is a bit lame.

I liked the way Kate and Aidan became close – they spent some time together, they made some mistakes and it was a bit awkward at times. I’m pretty sure I haven’t read a book where the ‘hero’ character has been so noticeably affected by time spent serving in a warzone and the fact that it was a 19yo gave me a lot to think about, especially in terms of how you’d deal with having just one arm. There’s a scene where Kate tries to function using only one of her arms and it’s incredibly difficult. Especially as Aidan lost his right arm, which was the one he used the most. I am not ambidextrous so I can only imagine trying to go through life with my left arm, which is almost useless on its own. However I do think that even though he had nightmares and guilt, Aidan was very well adjusted and the issue of a deeper psychological trauma wasn’t really explored. I actually expected a lot more angst in this book but considering the two issues it tackles, it’s quite light. I also feel like Kate’s complaining came off as even more shallow and silly when put up against Aidan’s issues. However in terms of a quick read that’s done something a little different, I enjoyed it overall.

7/10

Book #49 of 2014

 

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