June 15, 2012

Book Review: The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland

At First Sight: Em (also known as Elizabeth Margaret) is on the fast track to an Ivy League School and the life her parents have planned for her: become a lawyer, get a spot in her father's firm and marry someone who is at least as rich as her parents are. 

However, Em wants something different, as her true passion is - and has always been - cooking, and she would love to go to cooking school, only that she knows she doesn't have it in her to defy her Parents and Grandmother. In fact, she never defies them about anything, no matter how disenchanted she is with her current life and future ahead. 

So, when Em gets and invitation to spent the summer with Aunt Tilly - a mysterious aunt she had never heard of - she sizes the opportunity to step away from her parents's plans, defying them for the first time ever but winning, in the end. 

In the Outer Banks in North Carolina, Em gets to know this whole other side of her family she never knew about and, much as she misses her sister Gwyneth, Em also begins to love her Aunt Tilly and cousin Frederick. 

Second Glance: I have many mixed feelings about this book. To start, I found the writing to be fun and airy and fast, I mean, I would read large chunks of the story in just a few minutes without even noticing - and that's always good in my book.

I also loved the relationship Em has with her younger sister Gwyneth (even if she does sound too perfect to be true), since it's loving and fun and it's nice to see two sisters who are close in age and aren't at each other's throats all the time. Gwyneth and Em always are each other's suppor and I liked that. 

But, for the most part, I didn't like the people in this book. I didn't find them compelling or likable. The story, over all, was a bit melodramatic and, at the same time, it feels like everything is fixed or dealt with in a ridiculously easy way.

Cade, the romantic interest of the story, was all right and played his part well, but he also reminded me of other characters I've read before, with out having anything about him that really stuck to my memory. 

Also, I can't pin-point why, but when I was reading the beginning of the story I thought two things: First, Grandmother is a mix of evil Grandemere from the Princess Diaries Books and Emily Gilmore, just not as charming. And second, this feels like fan fiction. Really good fan fiction, but no more than that (I think it might be the 'quirky characters' that (again) reminded me of Gilmore Girls). 

Bottom Line: I don't want to make it sound like The Summer My Life Began is a bad book, because it isn't. I just had a few issues with it that made it an OK book for me but no more than that. I did enjoy the setting and I liked Em, even if the big family secret could be spotted miles away. 

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