Have you ever read a book you thought sounded like a charming bit of fluff? You know the kind. That was my initial reaction to Just One Summer. A novella collection brainstormed by four talented authors who are taking the indie world of publishing by storm. What I did not realize was just how fast and thoroughly I was going to fall head over heels in love with the four stories they created. There’s such a diverse world of emotions captured in this fleeting bit of joy. As a whole story, it works almost in sync with its counterparts despite it being able to pull individual sets prompts, each with their own voice.
The overall plot is about four lifelong friends who are stepping out on their own for their first summer apart. Who do we meet? First is Joss, a girl tired of pretending everything is right in her family; Sydney is trying to find her independence after a bad relationship with a guy wanting her to follow her father’s idea of “perfect”; the homeschool graduate, Darby, who finds herself while working at a tattoo parlor along with some help from her boss, Lennon; and finally there is Avery, who has ghosts of her own to confront – even if it means visiting the grandfather she never wanted to know to do that.
This is really just the briefest of overviews for this collection. Not just as a whole, but also the individual vignettes. These ladies packed a lot of content into the brief snippets they invited us into of these girl’s separate lives. Four lives across the Country. The book begins with one of the sweetest little stories I think I can safely say, I’ve ever read.
BOOK REVIEW | ‘The Wonder of You’: Another Really Good Story!‘JUST ONE SUMMER’ NOVELLA COLLECTION: 'Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants' for the Contemporary Audience #FWarchives Click To Tweet
Nicole’s delicately beautiful Joss, and the boy-next-door character (A Summer Remade) we meet are darling. I enjoyed their interactions and his genuine affection for Joss as he tries to entice her into living more colorfully, unafraid.
Following this are the two “edgier” stories that tell Sydney’s (Waves of Summer) and Darby’s (A Painted Summer) stories, respectively. Sydney’s probably has the most compelling and interesting backstory (kudos to Tammy) as she struggles with her mother and the repeat pattern she keeps falling into.
Darby’s story is unique because she’s trying to find her own voice and while I can appreciate this, I also don’t believe that her education should be considered any reason to hold her back. She’s got what it takes to do whatever she wants and in all honesty, I probably enjoyed her budding romance the most. Amy’s leading man, Lennon, is awesome!
Finally, there is Jenny’s story, Wild Heart Summer. Having her name on any work of fiction means we’re ensured a hilarious good time. What I appreciated about ‘Wild Heart’ was its softened narrative voice, and the way Owen sweetly pursues Avery, a girl who is already skittish thanks to a past riddled with regret and fear she’d end up like her mother.
Aging up the characters for this collection was a wise decision. Instead of a young adult novella, this fits better with the New Adult crowd though there is crossover. None of the stories are overly focused on any kind of spiritual themes, which means this won’t come off as “preachy” to anyone. Friendship and the places we have to go before we can “grow up” are the forces navigating this. What more I can say, I really don’t know. I’m delighted I had the chance to read this. An amazing group of talent weaves together seamlessly to create a summer this reader isn’t soon to forget. To try and put more perspective on these stories, this made me all nostalgic; really, it’s like the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants for this generation.
The girl’s personalities and the men who sweetly capture their hearts are darn cute. Each of the budding romances is charming, and though enough time isn’t given to each (length), every single one feels natural and as if it’s all happens in perfect time. The end leaves the girls healthier emotionally and on the cusp of being truly in love.
Searching for that ideal beach read may be closer than you think. Reading Just One Summer should be the one objective anyone remedies before taking the effort of looking for that next summer read. Make a date with these four girls. Friendship, romance, sass (this isn’t a complete collection without some), adventure and coming-of-age stories aren’t superior than these four. After this, what’s left to say? Just read them. ♥
About the Book:
Authors: Nicole Deese, Tammy L. Gray, Amy Matayo and Jenny B. Jones
Publisher: Independently Published
Source: Author Provided
Publication Date: 2015
Find the Review elsewhere: Amazon ǀ Goodreads ǀ WordPress
Find the Book Elsewhere: Goodreads
Genre: Fiction; New Adult Contemporary
Rating: 5 out of 5
Sincere thanks to author, Jenny B. Jones for providing a complimentary e-copy of this book.