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Book Review: The Last Summer (of You and Me) by Ann Brashares

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Ann Brashares is the author of the beloved young adult novel The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and its sequels, so it’s not a surprise that in her first novel for grown-ups her adult characters seem reluctant to leave adolescence behind. In The Last Summer (of You and Me), recent college graduate Alice returns for yet another idyllic summer on Fire Island, only to discover that life, in its inevitable way, is moving out – with or without her.

Alice, her older sister Riley, and next-door neighbor Paul have grown up together, barefoot on the splintery boardwalks of the kind of resort town where nobody locks the door or carries a wallet. As a teen, Riley was the youngest of the lifeguards; now, at 24, she’s the oldest, still content to stare out over the ocean in the hopes of catching sight of a dolphin. Alice worries that both of them are aiming too low in the journey towards adulthood, hence Alice’s decision to go to law school, where she hopes she’ll learn to be a grown up.

Paul’s reaction to Alice’s plans is disappointment. He’s always wanted more for Alice, with whom he’s been in love as long as he can remember. To his surprise and delight, Alice reciprocates his affections, and, for a moment as fleeting as the midnight tide pools that so delight Alice, the past and the future converge.

When tragedy strikes, Alice finds herself filled with fear that she and Paul are betraying Riley by turning a threesome into a couple plus third wheel. Technically, Paul is Riley’s best friend, and they’ve always “shared” Alice as a little sister. For Alice to claim a greater stake in Paul than Riley is more than she feels entitled to allow herself.

While these are appealing characters grappling with real life issues, the plot of The Last Summer (of You and Me) founders upon a contrived plot point that diminishes the emotional depth of the story by emphasizing Alice’s essential passivity. As Alice withdraws from her life, the story itself seems to fade to gray, and the second half of the book founders.

Fans of Brashares (and they are legion, indeed) will forgive the book its flaws, and enjoy it for its considerable charms. In particular, Brashares is adept at conveying the nuances of being 22, grown up without knowing what that really means. She’s a beautiful writer, and her evocations of summer life on the ocean make it easy to understand why Alice, Paul, and Riley are finding it so hard to move on.

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  • http://philobiblon.co.uk Natalie Bennett

    This article has been selected for syndication to Advance.net , which is affiliated with newspapers around the United States, and to Boston.com. Nice work!

  • lauren

    i loved this book. It was never boring and always kept you wonderng how it was going to end. I encurage people to buy this book.

  • kay stew

    i loved this book so much. my emotions ran wild, i didnt know whether or not to cry, or be happy. or…both. now that i am done reading it though, i feel disconnected…i just want to know more about paul riley and alice. the deep emotional and physical connection between paul and alice also left be breathless. i loved it. you should read this book, definitly!

  • http://vv vv

    Wow! This was a great book and was something different then the sisterhood of the traveling pants, I would like to read another book like this soon!

  • lisa

    This book was amazing. I’ve read it twice in less than a week and may read it again (at least my favorite parts). I loved the chemistry between Alice and Paul–the way they came to and discovered, then rediscovered their love.

  • Kimyra

    I so want to read this book. I just heard about it today, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Even though I’m 23, I still love to read The Sisterhood books, and I bet The Last Summer (of You and Me) is going to be better.

  • megan

    This book was awesome! I bought it on vacation and finished it in 3 days. It was wonderfully written and it was so easy to get connected with Paul, Alice, and Riley. It was very sad though, and my emotions ran high. I hope for a sequel to this amazing book!

  • kayla

    This book was amazing, I just finnished it. Took me two days to read it, I couldn’t stop. It kept making you wonder how it was going to end. I loved Alice and her relationship with her sister! Go read it noww.

  • Elizabeth

    I just finished reading this book,and now i can’t wait to find out if there is going to be another one coming out! I really enjoyed reading this book, and I usually don’t feel connected to a book, but this one just made me keep reading non stop. I have to say this is one book i truly like. I cannot wait for a sequel. I want to know what happens to Alice & Paul.

  • Jennifer

    This book is amazing, I’d love a sequel so much. I hardly ever read without getting distracted…but this book keeps you glued.

  • Charlote

    Trop bien! Ce livre ne ma pas du tout déçu même si je ne m’attendais pas du tout à ça vu sa différence ENORME avec 4 filles et un jean que j’ai également adoré. Ce livre fort et émouvant ma beaucoup touché même si je ne me suis pas reconnue dans les personnages à l’invers de 4 filles et un jean. Alice, Riley et Paul étaient si… émouvant qu’on a envie d’entrer dans le livre pour les aider.
    Donc un 10/10 car 11/10 n’existe pas :p.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Hmm, apparently French doesn’t travel very well on the net…

  • Lauren

    This book was absolutely amazing! I haven’t sat down to read a book in the longest time, and I am so happy that I chose this book to start my reading hobby again. The emotions I felt while reading this book were exhilerating. I had a hard time putting the book down. I found myself squirming and on edge of my seat at certain parts. It was truely a beautiful story of love and even more, the importance of sibling bonding. Loved it!!!!

  • abby

    The Last summer is so awesome it made me cry when Riley died!

  • laura

    omg! this was an amazing book! i had so many emotions while reading this and did not ONCE want to put it down. i finished it in one day! it was that good. i cried hard towards the end of the book. and it made me so happy to see how they all connected and related to eachother. i reccomment this book highlllyy!!!
    LOVED IT LOVED IT

  • kylie

    I am reading this book at the moment its great so far and ive only read 2 chapters,
    and it used to be 33 buks and now it was only 8 lol.so my mum brought it for me and thought i would like it and i do

  • Sara

    hi!
    i’m spanish
    and i really love this book
    I just Finished it!
    there are a movie of this book?

    thanks a lot!

  • http://myspace.com/toisha Ms. Toisha

    I LOVED THIS BOOK. I’ve seen the Sisterhood movie and when I picked up the book, it was partly because she authored those. I fell in love with Alice, Riley and Paul from chapter 2. And as one reviewer had said (from the cover itself) it did have me reading way into the night. Which is a first for me really. Another first? I reread my fav chapters (which was most of the book) immediately after finishing.
    I thought her language and expression of the characters was romantic, and even if the baseline story was simple she added a flavor I hadnt seen before. You go Ann.

    You will love The Last Summer of You and Me. From cover to cover.

  • Lorin Parez

    this book is awsome i just picked out a random book report but this random book might b the best one i ve read so far

  • adrian

    I love this book…what a great read! For the first time in all of my years with my face burried in novels, I cried out loud after reading this one. Ann Brashares is so talented. I urge anyone that hasn’t yet to get lost in this one :)

  • Rachael

    Thanks for spoiling the book guys.

  • http://facebook.com/bellasteffa Stefanie

    I was having a hard time getting into this book so wanted to read a few reviews. Thanks to the person who informed us that Riley died. doubt I read on….

  • FutureGirl

    i love this book! i finished it in just 10 hours! even when i was so sleepy i couldn’t put it down!

  • http://blogcritics.org/books/article/book-review-the-last-summer-of/ Melissa

    Very nice book ..Definetly not boring

  • Lisa

    I bought this book probably three or four years ago. I’ve finally read it! It is my new favorite book. There were so many emotions flowing while reading this book. I even cried a few times! Ann Brashares is so incredibly talented. I hope there is a sequel to this book and a movie!

  • Kelsey

    I just finished this book and I love it! It was the kind of book that you can’t put down and you get excited when you pick it back up to read it! Great book!!