I picked up The Summer I Found You by Jolene Perry at a Used Book Fair, hoping for a light, cheesy, yet enjoyable read. Unfortunately, the book, while cheesy and light, was too much so, with predictable, flat characters and a plot squarely centered on the romance between Kate and Aidan and nothing else. Also, neither the cover or the title relates to what the book was actually about (this took place at the end of the school year…cue dramatic moments where Kate has to face her ex boyfriend in class). There was no beach or flower petals.
Basically, Kate’s boyfriend, Shelton, just broke up with her at the end of her senior year, and she’s devastated. She just found out she has diabetes and has not been dealing with it well, so losing Shelton was like losing normal. Her best friend, Jen, sets her up with her cousin, Aidan/Aiden (Perry spells it both ways during the book), who lost an arm in Afghanistan and, you guessed it, they fall in love and everything ends happily ever after.
“I don’t want forever. The thought of carrying my finger pricker and my shots around for another year make me want to scream, but forever? That stuns me into silence.”
I thought Kate was remarkably immature. She seems incapable of understanding the consequences of any of her actions, and is preoccupied with herself. She was selfish, only thinking about what she wants, not even bothering to think about how that affects others. And, kudos to Jolene Perry for presenting diabetes in a Young Adult novel, but it bugged me so much that Kate didn’t understand the severity of it. She allows her blood sugar to rise and fall to unhealthy levels, and gets annoyed with her parents for “controlling her” when they monitor her blood levels. In reality, they were just making sure she didn’t die, because she obviously wasn’t worrying about that herself. In the beginning, it was denial, which I expected. But I also expected a typical character arch where she eventually learns the error of her ways and apologizes for being so careless. This character arch did not happen. For a majority of the novel, Kate is ignoring her diabetes and refusing to tell others about it, and ignoring the wise words of wisdom from her family and friends as they tell her to be serious about her condition. It takes Aidan/Aiden yelling at Kate to magically (and instantaneously) get through to her. She bursts into tears, recognizes her errors, and apologizes. All at once. Where was the slow, gradual realization her mistakes?
“Aidan walks like Aidan wants to walk. Like Aidan wants to dress. No pretension.”
As for Aidan/Aiden, the same general problem existed. He was having trouble accepting his loss of a limb, but spends the majority of the book complaining about it and refusing to complete the actions other people say will help him learn to accept it. He walks out on his therapist and doesn’t return. He has more character growth, though, by the fact that he’s actually trying, and does right at the end start to come to terms with his disability. He actually had problems t deal with, the least of which was the physical aspects. He saw his Sargent get killed in front of him with the same bomb that wounded him. That trauma along with the guilt is enough to struggle with, much less adding on a loss of a limb. Still, I felt like for the majority of the book he was standing still, and all of a sudden he started moving forward, right at the end.
“Wow. I just had sex with Aidan Connelly. Talk about best distraction ever.”
The romance was really what I was looking forward to, and really what should’ve been good, considering this book ignored other aspects like character growth to focus on the romance. But it was the most hated type of romance in the universe: insta-love. Jen sets Kate and Aidan/Aiden up at a carnival. They pretend to be dating to make Kate’s ex boyfriend jealous, because yes, they are still in the same friend group and yes, he broke up with her for someone else. And all of a sudden, at the end of the night, they’re in love. They both can’t stop thinking about each other. Even though they are complete strangers, Kate calls Aidan/Aiden to skip class and hangs out with him for the rest of the afternoon. They talk on the phone for hours and make out. And yes, they have sex, and Kate 1.) does not tell him it’s her first time and 2.) calls it a “distraction”. And all of it just seems too cheesy to be real. The dialogue was cheesy, the romance was cheesy, the thoughts were cheesy. Everything was cheesy and I could barely get through it. There was zero chemistry between the two characters, and the relationship seemed unhealthily focused on the physical aspects. The emotional aspects (like trust and honesty) were pushed to the side.
This book, I think, had a lot of potential. Introducing two protagonists with disabilities/diseases rarely shown in Young Adult literature was good and added some much needed diversity. But sadly, that was the only redeeming thing about this novel. The characters were one-dimensial, the plot line basically non-existent, and the romance was over the top and instantaneous. It failed to live up to my expectation of a slightly cheesy yet enjoyable romance.
Have you read this book? What did you think? What other books have you read that talk about loss of a limb or diabetes? What are some of your most hated instaloves?