Published by Penguin on May 16th 2013
Format: eBook (384 pages) • Goodreads •
Four best friends, five summers of camp memories.
The summer we were nine: Emma was branded “Skylar’s friend Emma” by the infamous Adam Loring...
The summer we were ten: Maddie realized she was too far into her lies to think about telling the truth...
The summer we were eleven: Johanna totally freaked out during her first game of Spin the Bottle...
The summer we were twelve: Skylar’s love letters from her boyfriend back home were exciting to all of us—except Skylar...
Our last summer together: Emma and Adam almost kissed. Jo found out Maddie’s secret. Skylar did something unthinkable... and whether we knew it then or not, five summers of friendship began to fall apart.
Three years after the fateful last night of camp, the four of us are coming back to camp for reunion weekend—and for a second chance. Bittersweet, funny, and achingly honest, Five Summers is a story of friendship, love, and growing up that is perfect for fans of Anne Brashares and Judy Blume's Summer Sisters.
I liked this book enough but it didn’t blow me away. The general idea is that these four girls (Emma, Skylar, Jo, and Maddie) all attended four years of summer camp together when they were younger. They’e grown apart over the years and hope to reconnect over their reunion weekend. The book makes you wish you had friends like that or an experience at a summer camp. I never had that and I wish more than anything that I did. I think the ending was drawn-out a little bit; the last 80% of the book could have easily been consolidated into a chapter or two. The ending was extremely predictable and I can safely say all of my theories about their secrets or how things would play out came true.
I think all of the girls tended to blend together a little too much. I don’t mean that they were super similar to each other; I just mean that they were characterized at a very superficial level. They all had different problems and stereotypical “personalities” but all sounded the same. There was the tomboy, the girl who’s hiding something, the party girl, and the innocent/shy girl. Otherwise, they were not characterized beyond that stereotype.
- Emma seemed to be the main character. She was pretty innocent, shy, and still a virgin. She was harboring a longtime crush on Adam, who could be sleazy but also seemed to be “different” around her. I didn’t really buy it. I didn’t understand at ALL what made her hold onto her feelings; he was nothing special. I understand the longing of a first crush, but there’s usually at least some validity to the crush as to why you like them or think they’re a good person. There was some information about her home life and time spent in NYC, as well as a cute guy back there, but she hardly reference it after the beginning of the book as she was headed to the reunion. I liked this because it showed how camp really was a separate world from their home lives, but I also wish there was a little more about them outside of camp.
- Skylar was the worst. She was the party girl who had sex with a lot of dudes. She was keeping a secret from Emma that she knew would crush her, but decided to go ahead and do it anyways. I couldn’t relate to her or her reasoning for doing what she did that much. She was a bad friend and I don’t think I would have forgiven her. The book was mainly about Skylar and Emma’s friendship/drama and that took a lot of focus off of the other two girls. I didn’t like Skylar or understand why she behaved the way she did.
- Jo was the camp owner/director’s daughter. She’d basically spent her whole life at the camp between being a counselor and a camper. She is a mini version of her father and tended to follow the rules a lot more than the others. She was the tomboy and good at sports. She never cared about boys or relationships like her friends did and tended to avoid those conversations altogether. I liked her but also didn’t really see where she was coming from. She was much closer with her father than her mother; her parents divorced when she was younger. She never exactly explained why she wasn’t drawn to boys or how she was different from her friends – she just kept saying that she was different. I don’t know, I expected a certain “secret” to come out, which did end up getting addressed in a way. Regardless, she was a loyal friend and a moral person that I came to like.
- Maddie was the girl who was lying about her home life. She came to camp to escape her real life and became more of best friends with Jo. (Obviously in a friend group of four, the people are going to pair off) Her story seemed to be the least important one; I hardly ever felt like her perspective was shared. She only talked about her ex boyfriend Charlie and how he had screwed her over. She was able to relate this to some other issues happening with the girls at camp, but she otherwise didn’t seem to have a major part in the story. When shit hit the fan and the secrets were revealed (primarily just Skylar and Maddie’s secrets), no one seemed to care or ask what was going on with her. Even after everyone found out the truth, they barely touched on it again. I understand she probably didn’t want to face it or tell them a lot of details, but her friends barely seemed interested enough to work through it with her. I can recall one conversation about it but that’s it. Again, it just seemed like Skylar/Emma drama trumped everything else. (I think Maddie even pointed that out once).
I used my speed reading skills a lot of the time too because it was just a little too wordy for me in some spots. I got bored by the flashbacks but thought they were cute overall. I would groan to myself when I clicked to the next chapter and saw that it was a flashback one but ended up enjoying it as it was happening. It was nice to see their friendship while it was good. Una LaMarche switches between about a billion points of view; it switched between each of the four girls in present day (for the camp reunion weekend) as well as all four girls having flashbacks to their real camp days. At first I thought this could be confusing, but she actually did it pretty successfully. For every 3-4 chapters in present day, she switched back to the past. I was glad there weren’t THAT many flashback chapters — just enough to give you the right idea about their life at camp. Overall, I would recommend this book – especially people who enjoy summery books, books about summer camp, or people who generally enjoy multi-POV contemporary novels.
It was an easy summer read that touched on all of the basics in a YA contemporary. The setting of Camp Nedoba was really fun, too. Don’t expect to get too attached to the characters because they unfortunately don’t have much characterization aside from their stereotypes or “secrets.”