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The Last Summer (of You and Me)by Anne Brashares
Synopses & Reviews
From the New York Times-bestselling author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Ann Brashares comes her first adult novel
In the town of Waterby on Fire Island, the rhythms and rituals of summer are sacrosanct: the ceremonial arrivals and departures by ferry; yacht club dinners with terrible food and breathtaking views; the virtual decree against shoes; and the generational parade of sandy, sun-bleached kids, running, swimming, squealing, and coming of age on the beach.
Set against this vivid backdrop, The Last Summer (of You and Me) is the enchanting, heartrending story of a beach-community friendship triangle and summertime romance among three young adults for whom summer and this place have meant everything. Sisters Riley and Alice, now in their twenties, have been returning to their parents modest beach house every summer for their entire lives. Petite, tenacious Riley is a tomboy and a lifeguard, always ready for a midnight swim, a gale-force sail, or a barefoot sprint down the beach. Beautiful Alice is lithe, gentle, a reader and a thinker, and worshipful of her older sister. And every summer growing up, in the big house that overshadowed their humble one, there was Paul, a friend as important to both girls as the place itself, who has now finally returned to the island after three years away. But his return marks a season of tremendous change, and when a simmering attraction, a serious illness, and a deep secret all collide, the three friends are launched into an unfamiliar adult world, a world from which their summer haven can no longer protect them.
Ann Brashares has won millions of fans with her blockbuster series, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, in which she so powerfully captured the emotional complexities of female friendship and young love. With The Last Summer (of You and Me), she moves on to introduce a new set of characters and adult relationships just as true, endearing, and unforgettable. With warmth, humor, and wisdom, Brashares makes us feel the excruciating joys and pangs of love—both platonic and romantic. She reminds us of the strength and sting of friendship, the great ache of loss, and the complicated weight of family loyalty. Thoughtful, lyrical, and tremendously moving, The Last Summer (of You and Me) is a deeply felt celebration of summer and nostalgia for youth.
"'The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants author delivers her first novel for adults, a treacly tale about the tribulations a trio of longtime friends encounter. For as long as she can remember, 21-year-old Alice has spent summers on Fire Island with her parents and older sister, Riley. Riley, 24, is a beach lifeguard, more boyish in both looks and spirit than sweet, feminine Alice. An island neighbor and Riley's best friend, Paul, whose father is dead and mother mostly absent, returns to the island after two years away and must decide whether to sell his family's house there. More importantly, he and Alice finally act on an attraction they've felt for years, but they keep their frequent nuzzling quiet so as not to hurt Riley. Riley, meanwhile, has her own problems that could ruin Alice and Paul's clandestine romance and just about everything else. Brashares's YA roots are on display: the girls and Paul act like high school kids (Riley threatens to move out of the house unless everyone butts out; Paul and Alice are stricken with the most saccharine of puppy love), and anything below the surface is left untouched. It's a beach read, for sure, but a mediocre one. (June)' Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"For many of us, there's a place — a beach or a farm or the cold, clear waters of a lake — where we locate our nostalgia for lost summers. For the characters in Ann Brashares' 'The Last Summer (of You and Me),' this place is Fire Island. Here, sisters Riley and Alice and their neighbor Paul have spent the summers of their childhoods, maintaining a fierce loyalty to each other through the turbulence... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) of adolescence and the encroachments of adult realities. Fire Island has been a separate reality, a place apart. Now in their 20s, they have converged here for a final summer. All these characters frequently seem younger than their stated ages. Riley, 24, has never fully made the transition to adulthood. Gifted in sports, 'effortlessly expert at skateboarding, sailing, running fast, coaxing a fish off of any line,' she has remained strangely close to her childhood world, even as her peers have grown up and moved on. Alice, at 21, is looking toward law school, not because she wants to be a lawyer but because it's the next dutiful step. Paul, who lives in the big house that blocks their ocean view — sometimes with his wealthy, narcissistic, mother and more often alone — has been Riley's best friend, her match in physical daring and something of an older brother to Alice. These three have always wandered the island together. This year, however, Paul and Alice upset the equilibrium by falling in love. The first part of the novel focuses largely on their romance, a giddy first love for them both that they try to keep secret because it threatens established loyalties. Immersed in their pleasures, Alice and Paul don't spend much time considering Riley. However, when Riley becomes suddenly and seriously ill, Alice's latent guilt emerges all at once. She rushes from the island to the hospital to find Riley with congestive heart failure. Here, Riley extracts a promise: Alice will not tell Paul about her damaged heart. Alice agrees to this with surprising swiftness, giving up both Paul and her plans for law school in an instant. She moves back home with her parents and helps care for Riley for the following year, a strained, uneasy re-creation of their childhood. It's a compelling premise, this struggling between loyalties, between the different demands of love, but Brashares falters in establishing the connections between these characters that would make it convincing. The narrative is revealed primarily by Alice and Paul — theirs is the most deeply drawn relationship in this triangle, and their romance is both the catalyst of change and the novel's focus. Riley, however, remains a shadowy, isolated figure. Other characters share opinions and memories of Riley, but she's rarely present in important scenes, and her point of view surfaces infrequently. Since Riley shares with Paul a secret from the past — a secret more or less withheld from the reader until late in the book — the brevity of her scenes seems like manipulation. And since Riley knows about her sister's affair with her best friend, her request that Alice lie to Paul makes Riley unsympathetic, despite the gravity of her illness. Moreover, when Riley gets sick, Alice's profound guilt and unhesitating sacrifice are difficult to believe. Alice's decision seems abstract, without the force of emotional conviction. Likewise, because Riley's perspective isn't fully explored — because it's not clear what Riley wants, aside from a return to the status quo — her actions in response to her failing heart are puzzling. Riley's rebellion against the restrictions of her illness, her running and swimming and pushing of limits, all make sense, but her persistence in subverting treatment for her damaged heart does not. Riley loves her freedom, yes, and she's uneasy in the world of adults. But is this enough for her to risk her life? By the end, the characters have suffered losses, and their links to their childhoods have disappeared or been discarded; they can no longer inhabit the Fire Island they knew, except in memory. As Alice notes when she meets Paul again: 'They'd been stripped down since last summer. ... Last time, they'd been hiding out in their alternate universe, like fugitives or wary secessionists. ... Now they were with the world again. It was less privileged, maybe, but at least it connected them to the future.' It's a hopeful ending, in the way of fairy tales; hope, like nostalgia, dreams of a distant time without dwelling too closely on the details. Despite its serious themes 'The Last Summer (of You and Me)' is full of optimism and too neatly resolved. But it's steeped in the familiar longings for lost time that readers seeking the carefree pleasures of a summer will enjoy. Kim Edwards is the author of 'The Memory Keeper's Daughter.'" Reviewed by Kevin PhillipsKim Edwards, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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From the author of the multimillion-copy, #1 bestselling series The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants comes a heartbreaking first adult novel that will resonate as clearly with readers in their forties as it does with readers in their twenties.
From the author of the multimillion-copy, #1 bestselling series The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants comes a heartbreaking first adult novel.
Ann Brashares's series, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, has made her one of the most successful contemporary authors, shipping more than 8 million copies over the last five years and winning even more millions of passionate fans. Now, like Judy Blume (Summer Sisters) before her, Brashares turns her spectacular gifts to adult readers. In The Last Summer (of You and Me), Brashares uses her remarkable storytelling, emotional insights, and talent for capturing relationships to weave a rich, textured, mature novel that will resonate as clearly with readers in their forties as in their twenties.
Set on Long Island's Fire Island, The Last Summer (of You and Me) is an enchanting, heartrending page- turner about sisterhood, friendship, love, loss, and growing up. It is the story of a beach community friendship triangle-Riley and Alice, two sisters in their twenties, and Paul, the young man they've grown up with-and what happens one summer when budding love, sexual curiosity, a sudden serious illness, and a deep secret all collide, launching the friends into an adult world from which their summer haven can no longer protect them.
As wise, compelling, and endearing as her Traveling Pants series, and as lyrical, thoughtful, and moving as the best literary women's fiction, this novel is sure to win an entire new generation of adult fans.
About the Author
Ann Brashares is the author of the phenomenal five-million-copies-selling series of young adult novels, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, The Second Summer of the Sisterhood, Girls In Pants, and Forever in Blue, and the New York Times bestselling adult novel The Last Summer (of You and Me).
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