May 16, 2013

Review: Summer Sisters

By: Judy Blume
Published: May 1999 by Dell
Format: Paperback, 399 pages
Buy: Barnes & Noble//Books-A-Million//Amazon//Book Depository
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They're still Vixen and Cassandra, summer sisters forever. The rest is a mistake, a joke.

In the summer of 1977, Victoria Leonard's world changed forever—when Caitlin Somers chose her as a friend. Dazzling, reckless Caitlin welcomed Vix into the heart of her sprawling, eccentric family, opening doors to a world of unimaginable privilege, sweeping her away to vacations on Martha's Vineyard, a magical, wind-blown island where two friends became summer sisters. . . .

Now, years later, Vix is working in New York City. Caitlin is getting married on the Vineyard. And the early magic of their long, complicated friendship has faded. But Caitlin has begged Vix to come to her wedding, to be her maid of honor. And Vix knows that she will go—for the friend whose casual betrayals she remembers all too well. Because Vix wants to understand what happened during that last shattering summer. And, after all these years, she needs to know why her best friend—her summer sister—still has the power to break her heart....

Rating: 3/5

I have a disclaimer. I read this is a hurry. My friend let me borrow her copy and I needed to finish it before I went to visit her, so most of this was read on a plane. I'm pretty sure I would have different feelings if I was just sitting in my favorite reading spot, reading this slowly and digesting it all, but I think reading this on a plane and in a rush the couple days before I left made me not enjoy it as much as I would have. So, just keep that in mind.

In case anyone's wondering, I've never been a huge Judy Blume fan. Not because I didn't like her books, but because I didn't read many of them growing up. Though the ones I did read, I loved. So I didn't go into this with much expectation from Blume, only from my friend who listed this as her favorite book ever. Thinking back, I just can't tell if I liked this or disliked it. In some ways, I liked it, but in others I was extremely bored or annoyed or confused.

My main issue lied with the characters. There were far too many for me. I think it would have been all right if the characters had distinct personalities, but they didn't. Blume alternated points of view, which I found to be incredibly pointless. I got frustrated with the short shifts and it took me out of Vix's head as soon as I'd begin to get into it. So I never felt for any of them, not really. Vix sometimes, and those sometimes would be the points in the story that made me like the book. But if you asked me the names of all the major and supporting characters, I probably couldn't even list all of them. And this could be due to my airplane focus, but so many times I felt like a random character popped up and I couldn't remember where they came in at or who they even were. Just thinking about the characters gets me upset because I feel like if this had stayed in Vix's point of view or maybe hers and one of character, I would have connected on a much deeper level with this.

As for the plot, overall I liked it. There were some things I didn't find too believable, but then again, I didn't grow up in this time and my childhood/teenage years were incredibly different, so I just found it hard to connect to some of the things. I did very much enjoy the relationship between Caitlin and Vix. It was complex and interesting, and though I wanted to "feel" their relationship more at times, I liked following them from their preteen years to adulthood, seeing where life took them and how their relationship really didn't evolve. While I have few friends who I've had a long time, the ones I do, it seems like the relationship doesn't change, even when I don't talk to them after months or even years.

What I didn't like about the plot was that it felt jumpy and sporadic at times. Blume brushed over parts I would have actually liked to read in depth about instead of having it be a line. The narration bothered me quite a bit. I didn't care of its choppiness. It took me out of the story and kept me from connecting with it completely.

It seems like I didn't care for much about this book at all, but it did keep me reading on an airplane, which rarely happens and the times I did connect with it, I found myself enjoying it. There were some disturbing parts, but they were balanced with emotional and fun scenes pretty well, and the thing I liked most was how Blume portrayed Caitlin and Vix's relationship, which was the most important part to me. I recommend giving this a try. It'd be a good summer read, methinks.

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