It’s Grace here, after a week spent with my sister in South Carolina and meandering down Georgia. Not too much has been going on. I’ve been deciding which projects I want to prioritize this summer, making lots of art, and planning ALA 2018 — which I’ve just decided to attend. (If any of y’all are going or have any New Orleans recs, please let me know! I’d love to hang out!) Many of the people I used to blog with have stopped by now, which means that I no longer know people who attend these kinds of things.
One of these, my good friend Reut, and I regularly keep up. Although it mainly takes place over Facebook Messenger, she’s one of the constants I can always go to for a chat. We’ve also been lucky enough to be able to meet up a few times in Canada, when my family goes every summer. (And she’s amazing.)
Reut recently asked me if she could post a few guest reviews on Words Like Silver, and I said absolutely. So Reut Reads is back! Without further ado, here’s her first.
Novel: The Last Summer of the Garrett Girls by Jessica Spotswood | Goodreads
Release Date: June 5, 2018
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
One summer will challenge everything the Garrett sisters thought they knew about themselves — and each other.
Kat lands the lead in the community theater’s summer play, but the drama spills offstage when her ex and his new girlfriend are cast too. Can she get revenge by staging a new romance of her own?
Bea and her boyfriend are heading off to college together in the fall, just like they planned when they started dating. But Bea isn’t sure she wants the same things as when she was thirteen…
Vi has a crush on the girl next door. It makes her happy and nervous, but Cece has a boyfriend…so it’s not like her feelings could ever be reciprocated, right?
As the oldest, Des shoulders a lot of responsibility for her family and their independent bookstore. Except it’s hard to dream big when she’s so busy taking care of everyone else.
In The Last Summer of the Garrett Girls, Jessica Spotswood returns to a theme with which fans of her Cahill Witch Chronicles trilogy will be deeply familiar: sisterhood. The book is the story of the last summer before the first of the four orphaned Garrett sisters will be leaving their small town behind, a summer which proves to be transformative for all four.
In any book with multiple storylines, readers have more room to make comparisons between elements like pacing and character development. While each of the girls’ stories are engaging, there will likely be one or two you find more appealing than the others. My personal favourite was Kat’s, since it includes one of my favourite tropes of all time: fake dating. (I maintain to this day that the Debra Messing/Dermot Mulroney romcom The Wedding Date deserved an Oscar.)
I also enjoyed Bea’s story of trying to break free of the future that she had so meticulously planned for herself, complete with career path and significant other. Recently, I finally read Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, one of the themes of which is the struggle to reveal new parts of yourself to people who think they already know you. I was strongly reminded of this while reading The Last Summer of the Garrett Girls, which also draws on the difficulty of changing people’s expectations.
Vi’s relationship with Cele also has a fun fandom element, with frequent mentions of other YA books with queer themes (Nina LaCour appears a few times) and slash fanfiction. Sometimes this comes off as kitschy, but it’s a genuine attempt to place the book in the larger context of queer YA. Readers who are interested in a book which explores fandom more deeply may be interested in Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl.
Overall, I enjoyed this book, and I’ll likely be checking out Spotswood’s Wild Swans, an earlier contemporary standalone that was published in 2016. The Last Summer of the Garrett Girls is a fun summer read that would be a perfect fit for your beach bag. Though it dances around some difficult topics without ever letting consequences come down too strongly, that might be just what you’re looking for.