Heather Burch’s new novel Summer by Summer tells the story of two teens who get trapped on a deserted island somewhere near Belize. Summer is the consummate good girl, intent honoring her purity promise. Bray is a rich kid with a bad reputation. Together they face the elements–and their past.
(*Warning* The rest of this review is spoiler-ish.)
When I originally finished Summer by Summer I had a very strong reaction to it, that has been tempered by a thoughtful discussion from followers of my YA Gal Facebook page. There are many instances in the book where eighteen-year-old Summer fantasizes about getting married, right down to what the fabric of her wedding dress would be.
I’m not against marrying young. (I myself got married at twenty-two.) But I’d rather give teen girls the message that they should focus on completing their education instead of planning what their fictional bridesmaids will wear.
On the other hand, abstinence without marriage is especially a good idea if you are trapped on a deserted island without access to birth control or medical care. What would happen if you got pregnant? Giving birth in the jungle sounds like death waiting to happen. But that type of reasoning wasn’t what drove Summer’s decision making. She thought along the lines of “If I have sex with this guy who I’m in love with, I will tarnish my soul forever.” There was also a scene when Summer’s dad questioned her about the sleeping arrangements and it was one of those “father guard’s his daughters virginity” moments that creeps me out.
I’m all for promoting honest dialogue about sexual purity with youth, but I felt like there were some missing elements from the conversations Summer and Bray had in this book.
P.S. I received a free copy of Summer by Summer from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinions and review.