Thursday, May 10, 2012
May 1, 2012; Sourcebooks Fire
*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
Is he or isn't he? Brigitta's best friend is convinced that Brigitta's new crush, Luke, is actually egotistical teen heartthrob Trent Yves, hiding from his fans in their tiny town. But Brigitta actually likes Luke, whereas Trent is an arrogant jerk. As the two spend the summer together raising orphaned cougar cubs, Brigitta still can't be sure of his true identity. But then again, since her grandparents' death, her father's sudden urge to give away all their possessions and become a shaman, and her own awkward transition from girlhood into a young woman, what can she be sure of?(courtesy of Goodreads)
I expected The Summer of No Regrets to be a light, sweet romance. And it was. But there was more depth to it than I expected. Brigitta is caught between two worlds. She is the daughter of two hippie dippie parents, is homeschooled, and lives at the spiritual retreat her parents run. Yet she’s also a typical teenage girl who likes celebrity gossip, sulks over the loss of her sort-of boyfriend, and hangs out with her goofy friend. Enter Luke. The oft played theme of a mysterious new boy whose family buys the town mansion. Luke looks oddly like Trent Ives, the bad-boy teenage heartthrob movie star. Brigitta’s best friend is convinced. But then again, she thinks everyone from the patron at the cafe to the town janitor is a celebrity in hiding. Brigitta and Luke’s paths run into each other (literally) and they become fast friends.
I loved the charisma between Brigitta and Luke. Whether Luke is Trent or not, there is a lot about his life that is mysterious. Both he and Brigitta feel like outsiders from others their age. I loved how they connected over the cougar cubs they discovered. I liked their banter. It was casual and funny, but never so funny that it felt contrived. They were both deep thinkers about life, sadness, and art - each in their own way. I particularly liked that both Brigitta and Luke made mistakes. Luke was unreliable, somewhat moody, and had a tendency to disappear. Brigitta created a blog in which she mostly made fun of her best friend’s tendency to obsess over celebrities. I like seeing portrayals of fundamentally good people who are not 100% kindness.
The book delves into spirituality and death. Brigitta is mourning the recent death of her grandparents, with whom she was very close. In the wake of their deaths, her family has fallen apart. Her father is on a spiritual quest. In turn, Brigitta spends much of her time exploring different religions and schools of thought. It’s an odd subject for a YA novel, but I liked that the book ventured into fields that most books don’t touch. It’s funny that Brigitta and her family seem to look for every way of dealing with the aftermath of death other than acceptance.
Is Luke really Trent Ives or is he not? Until the end, I wasn’t sure. Brigitta doesn’t think he is. But then there are so many about Luke that are unknown. He looks a lot like Trent. He also knew a lot about movies and was in and out of town. But Trent Ives was always so arrogant in interviews, had massive PDA sessions with his celeb girlfriend, and was generally rude to everyone. Luke was nothing like that. The book does a great job of keeping everyone in doubt of Luke’s identity.
I did have a few issues with the book. Since I read an ARC, perhaps some will be resolved. Luke called his mother “mum,” but otherwise it didn’t mention whether he had an English accent - or if it did, it was buried. I also thought the book could have better explained why Brigitta and her family was so close to her grandparents when they lived halfway across the country. Brigitta also struck me as immature. She was 16 or 17, but I kept thinking she was only 14. She seemed young.
For the most part, The Summer of No Regrets is a delightful tale of self-discovery and of burgeoning romance. I recommend picking it up!