Title: Someone Else’s Summer by Rachel Bateman
Publisher: Running Press
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
Anna’s always idolized her older sister, Storm. So when Storm dies in a tragic car accident on the night of her high school graduation, Anna is completely lost and her family is torn apart. That is, until she finds Storm’s summer bucket list and decides to honor her sister by having the best summer ever–which includes taking an epic road trip to the coast from her sleepy Iowa town. Setting out to do everything on Storm’s list along with her sisters best friend Cameron–the boy next door–who knew that Storm’s dream summer would eventually lead to Anna’s own self-discovery?
Someone Else’s Summer by Rachel Bateman is a poignant yet heartwarming young adult novel.
Anna Holloway is absolutely gutted when her much admired older sister Storm unexpectedly dies in a car accident. Going through the motions as she resumes her regular activities within a couple of weeks, Anna is surprised when she finds her sister’s final list of things to do over the summer. Desperately wanting to complete the list, Anna and her sister’s best (and next door neighbor) Cameron Andrews embark on a road trip in an attempt to feel closer to Storm and hopefully work through their grief over their loss. By journey’s end, Anna is stunned by a final revelation that leaves her feeling like she really did not know Storm as well as she thought.
For much of their childhood, Anna tagged along on Storm and Cameron’s many adventures. However, in recent years, Anna is busy with cheerleading and her best friends Piper and Jovani. Nevertheless, Storm’s death leaves a huge whole in Anna’s life and she is struggling to understand how everyone around her can resume their normal lives after such a devastating loss. In addition to her grief, she also regrets not spending time with her sister and the discovery of Storm’s list provides her the opportunity to feel close to her sister again.
Cameron is struggling to cope with Storm’s death and in addition to his grief, he also harbors a hefty dose of guilt for a few reasons. Anna and her parents are quick to reassure him they harbor no ill feelings for his self perceived role in her loss. He does not hesitate to agree to accompany Anna on the road trip but there are a few tense moments between them along the way. Cameron is just as surprised as Anna when their friendship takes an unanticipated romantic turn.
It is not until they have nearly completed all of the items on Storm’s list that Anna becomes curious about some of the things her sister wanted to do that summer. When she broaches these topics with Cameron, he is forced to reveal the secrets he has been keeping for the past several months. She is stunned and extremely distraught by these revelations and she is quite angry with Cameron for not telling her the truth about Storm. Will she forgive Storm for the choices she made before she died? Will Anna forgive Cameron for keeping such important information from her?
While Anna’s friendship and subsequent romance with Cameron is absolutely delightful, her friendship with Piper is a sadly lacking. Piper does not have much empathy for Anna’s loss and while she is more than happy to drag her to parties and out shopping,she does not provide any emotional support. Piper’s attitude when Anna returns home after the road trip is just horrible which makes Anna’s efforts to resume their friendship that much worse.
Fast-paced with a well-written storyline and an endearing cast of characters, Someone Else’s Summer is an emotional novel of healing. Rachel Bateman perfectly balances the sadder elements of the story with the light-hearted yet meaningful road trip. Anna is a wonderful protagonist whose struggles to deal with Storm’s death are realistic. I greatly enjoyed and highly recommend this bittersweet novel to readers of all ages.