Trigger Warnings: unhealthy eating habits, underage drinking, academic pressures
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Caroline can’t wait for summer to end so that she and her older boyfriend, Jake, can run away together. She decides to spend her last summer at home saving money working at the local aquarium gift shop–and spending all the rest of her time hanging with Jake.
Then she meets Georgia, a counselor at the aquarium camp. Georgia weaves her way into Caroline’s life and suddenly the summer feels a lot less lonely.
The stronger Georgia and Caroline’s bond grows, the more uneasy Caroline becomes about her plans to leave. When summer comes to a close, she will have to say goodbye to someone… but who is she willing to lose?
If this one isn’t on your radar yet, it needs to be. I’m such a sucker for a book set during summer break where the main character works in a gift shop. Normally, these types of books are airy, free, and fun, and that’s what I was expecting from The Goodbye Summer, but it isn’t completely what I got. This novel resonated with me so deeply, in a completely unexpected way, and I’m so thankful it caught me off guard.
Caroline was exactly the type of flawed main character I long for. So much of my high school self was reflected back at me within these pages. As an adult, I yearned to pull her aside so I could help her find the self-worth she lacked, but my younger self understood the decisions she was making, the emotions she was feeling, and I knew that she needed to work through them herself. And she did. The development I saw Caroline go through was amazing. The reader is able to see her learn and grow, discover who she is and what’s important to her, and most importantly watch as she does realize that she is worth so much more than the life she originally planned for herself.
This is a very character driven book, which for me doesn’t always work, but Sarah Van Name did an incredible job with it. The relationships between every character were different and special in their own ways. Each person truly felt unique. Caroline found an unconventional adult to look up to in Jenny, which was nice. It seems like most of the role models characters find for themselves are the perfect adult, and in the real world, those just do not exist. Jenny felt like a boss that teens would actually have, and I loved watching the relationship between them grow just a little. Georgia was especially an absolutely special character. The life that is contained within her was amazing, and Caroline and Georgia’s friendship felt so much like the bond my high school best friend and I had. There were points when I was hoping those two would end up together, but in the end, I was so thankful that is not where the author took it. Please don’t get me wrong, I definitely feel like we need more f/f representation in young adult books, but there’s also a need for strong platonic relationships between two girls that actually care about each other and aren’t about to throw the other under a bus at a moment’s notice just to get ahead.
I haven’t seen any buzz about this book, and I truly hope that changes as we get closer to the release. It’s such a beautiful story that I feel is so important. It’s the book my high school self needed, and I have a feeling it’s a book a lot of current teens need. The Goodbye Summer deals with important topics and difficult feelings while showing the reader the importance of friendship and that doing what is best for you, in the long run, is always the right decision.
A digital ARC was provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.