Monday, June 25, 2018

The Last Summer of the Garrett Girls

The Last Summer of the Garrett Girls by Jessica Spotswood (2018)

Four sisters, orphaned and living with their grandmother, share a transformative summer. The oldest, Des, works full-time in the family bookstore and has been handling most household responsibilities while their grandmother has been recovering from an injury. Bea has just graduated and will be going to Georgetown with her boyfriend Erik, except she can no longer tolerate even thinking about this long-standing plan. Kat has been dumped and is formulating a plan to get her (jerk of an) ex-boyfriend back. Vi has a deep crush on a girl named Cece who seems super nice, but also seems to have a boyfriend.

These were all such good story lines, and I really loved these characters. Des is this totally dependable mom-figure who takes care of everybody at the expense of really living her own life. The book never comes out and uses the word "asexual," but she makes it clear a few times that she is uninterested in pursuing romantic relationships with anyone of any gender. She is, however, interested in a friendship with Paige, new to town, and different from anyone Des has known before. Her grandmother warns her away from this girl, claiming she is trouble, but Des ignores her, tempted by all the fun times she can have with Paige.

I loved how imperfectly realistic these characters are. Like Bea, who has been with her boyfriend since she was 13 (!!) and they've totally planned their lives together, but she is no longer interested in that life. She has also met a very attractive boat-dwelling guy named Gabe and has been spending some time with him. She can't bring herself to break up with Erik though. His family is like her family and vice versa. It would be like two families splitting, rather than just two people. And Erik is a super nice guy. There's nothing wrong with him, it's just that Bea is no longer in love with him. It would be much easier if he was actually a terrible person. 

Like Adam, Kat's ex-boyfriend. He cheated on her and is now dating the girl he cheated with. Kat is determined to win him back and realizes that the person to help her do it is Mason. Mason is bisexual and recently went through a breakup with his own boyfriend, who he also wants to win back. Kat's idea is that they will pretend to date and make their exes jealous. This will be especially easy since Kat and Mason got the lead parts in a play - a perfect situation to construct a romance! But it starts being difficult to tell what is acting and what is real.

The youngest sister, Vi, has been an out lesbian for a while now, and it's no big deal. The girl she is crushing on, however, is Latina and has a pretty conservative family. Also, a boyfriend. Vi has no idea if Cece is even interested in her and is SO angsty about it and tries to avoid Cece and gets all weird when they actually interact. (I mean, you remember being 15, right?) Cece is so great and they have a ton in common but Vi can't tell if Cece is being friend-nice or more-than-friend-nice. I feel you, Vi - we've all been there! I liked that some little things were included about Cece's life, like how annoyed she gets when people ask her where she's from and compliment her on her English. (Hint: she is from the United States and has always spoken English.)

I love small town stories and stories about sisters, which Jessica Spotswood is so good at (see also: The Cahill Witch Chronicles.) She's also good at creating individual, diverse characters who are realistically flawed and who I always root for. I really enjoyed this book and found it to be a perfect summer read. I know the title says "the last summer" but I would absolutely read another book about these characters and how things are going a year or so down the road. I want to make sure they're all ok!

No comments: