Book Review: The Last Summer

The Last Summer (Of You and Me)
Published By: Riverhead Books
Page Count: 320
Release Date: June 2007
Buy it at Amazon or IndieBound
Source: Library
Audience: Adult
Format: Audio-Book

I have enjoyed the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movies, but I have never read the series. I stumbled upon this audio-book at the library the other day and I was intrigued to see that this one was actually written for adults and had nothing to do with the pants girls. I decided to try it out and I was certainly pleasantly surprised. This is a perfect beach read with just the right amount of sand, surf, sadness, and pleasure. I also am intrigued by Brashares' writing style and intend to check out more of her work in the future. She writes in clean, crisp prose that breathes life into her characters in such a way that they feel like old friends.

The Last Summer showcases the lifelong friendship and longing between Riley, Alice, and Paul. Riley and Alice, a pair of sisters who vacation on Fire Island every summer, can't remember a time without their beach home and their next door neighbor, Paul. Paul is the same age as Riley and growing up the two of them were inseparable. Alice, the baby sister, was constantly trying to catch up and make herself part of Riley and Paul's world, but she was rarely admitted into their sphere fully, rather she watches from the outside with rapt interest. The book begins when all of them have entered their 20's and are striving to decide who they are as adults and what they want to do with their lives. The Last Summer forces you to take a hard look at the people around you and to see them for who they truly are - not who they once were.
I loved that this book didn't have characters that were perfect. Each one of the main characters is flawed in some way, but you learn to love them in spite of these issues. However, there were several moments when I just wanted to shake them because they were being so stupid about things. Riley's stubbornness infuriated me! I often felt like Alice as I worried and fretted over what would happen to Riley.

There are so many things I am longing to say about this book, but I don't want to give any plot points away. This read made me smile, filled me with anxiety, broke my heart, and in the end totally mesmerized me. I would highly recommend it to fans of Brashare's work and those who enjoy romances and sister stories.

The audio on this one also gets 4 birdies. The narrator did a nice job telling the story, but her voice was somewhat monotone in parts. I often had to rewind to see which characters was in control of the perspective as she had little deviation when she switched between them.

One Last Gripe: I was frustrated by Paul's lack of faith in Alice. He knows her so well that I find it hard to believe that he just assumed she was pushing him away and he never clued in that something was wrong. He acted like a jerk when she truly needed comfort and support.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: Learning about these characters from childhood through adulthood

First Sentence: Alice waited for Paul on the ferry dock.

Favorite Character: Alice

Least Favorite Character: Leah

In The Last Summer (of You and Me), Brashares uses her remarkable storytelling, emotional insights, and talent for capturing relationships to weave a rich, textured, mature novel that will resonate as clearly with readers in their forties as in their twenties.

Set on Long Island's Fire Island, The Last Summer (of You and Me) is an enchanting, heartrending page-turner about sisterhood, friendship, love, loss, and growing up. It is the story of a beach community friendship triangle-Riley and Alice, two sisters in their twenties, and Paul, the young man they've grown up with-and what happens one summer when budding love, sexual curiosity, a sudden serious illness, and a deep secret all collide, launching the friends into an adult world from which their summer haven can no longer protect them.