The Summer I Found You by Jolene Perry
eARC: 256 pages
Publisher: Albert Whitman Teen
Release Date: 1 March 2014
Age Level: Young Adult
Purchase: Amazon| Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound
All they have in common is that they're less than perfect. And all they're looking for is the perfect distraction.
Kate's dream boyfriend has just broken up with her and she's still reeling from her diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. Aidan planned on being a lifer in the army and went to Afghanistan straight out of high school. Now he's a disabled young veteran struggling to embrace his new life. When Kate and Aidan find each other neither one wants to get attached. But could they be right for each other after all?
Sometimes you read a book, enjoy it, but aren't quite certain what to do about it. That might not make sense, but that best describes my feelings after finishing The Summer I Found You. I feel like this was a good idea, but the execution needs a little more tweaking and editing. I can usually look through editing and grammar mistakes in advanced copies, as I assume those flubs will be fixed before the book release. I know that nobody is perfect, but if those mistakes cause me to get lost or confused or hinder my enjoyment of the story, that's when I'll mention it. This rating would have been higher, if not for the mistakes that made me have to read sentences or paragraphs over again, just so I could try to see what the author was trying to say.
With that said and out of the way, I did really like the story in and of itself. It was nice to see two broken people come together and form such an unexpected, but real bond. I also haven't read many (or possibly any) books involving people in the military, so that was a nice change for me. I liked both Aidan and Kate for the most part, which is good as the story is told from both their points of view. I must admit, I don't really see what the big deal was about Kate's diabetes. It's not like it's anything to be ashamed of, so I don't know why she wouldn't tell Aidan; especially considering he'd probably be the one person to understand a life-altering thing like that. I do like that Kate is able to see how her now ex-boyfriend Shelton probably wasn't that great after all. Sometimes in young adult books, a girl gets dumped and spends most of the story either moping over the boy or trying to get him back. I didn't want to see her get back together with Shelton, nor did I want to have to read about her moping and whining about it through the book. In that sense, I think the whole breakup aftermath was done much better than a lot of others portrayed in the genre. On the flipside, I didn't like how Kate wasn't really "getting it" when it came to her diabetes. It seemed more like she was just trying to pretend it wasn't there, which wasn't good for her at all. Aidan, on the other hand, wants to learn how to live with his new handicap, but doesn't necessarily know where to start. I liked that he had a lot of people to help guide him in ways that he can figure out what he wants to do with his new life. Sure, he got frustrated and angry about it a lot, but that's kind of to be expected. I liked how open he was with Kate, too. He didn't really seem to be able to hold things back from her even if he tried. That's really refreshing for a guy in YA. I liked that he was pretty close with his mom, too. His situation after returning from Afghanistan might not be ideal, but he has a pretty solid family and support system.
The relationship between Aidan and Kate is one that kind of moves quickly, but for some reason that didn't bother me. I think the main reason I was okay with the speed of it all was because it wasn't an insta-love type of relationship. It happened pretty naturally, despite how quick it was. They both realized they were broken and, though it's definitely not recommended, they were utilizing the other person as a distraction for the tough things in their lives. Like I said, it's not the best thing to do, but at least they weren't fooling themselves into thinking they're ready. What I like about the romance in this book is that their affection for one another comes as a surprise to them. For the most part, they were fairly comfortable with one another, though they had no intention of being anything more than friends. The relationship builds, layer upon layer. I think they're really good for one another and it makes sense that they would be together.
I thought the pace of the story might drag, but I was very pleased that it didn't seem that way to me. Again, the relationship progressed fairly quickly, but the story itself felt rather organic. (I usually hate using the word "organic" to describe something - probably because of too many art classes - but it definitely works here.) I think I would have finished this earlier if the editing had been a little bit better, making the words themselves flow easier. Oh yeah! Another issue I had was with the title. The story takes place during the school year. At no point does it make its way to summer. Sometimes I don't particularly like a title, but I can see how it makes sense. With The Summer I Found You, however, the title just doesn't makes sense in any way, shape or form. I was wondering if it was maybe just a working title at first, but it stuck even after edits. I don't know. What I do know is that the title doesn't work and is even a little bit misleading.
For the most part, I really did like The Summer I Found You. I liked being able to be inside the heads of these characters and get to know them. It's a rather quick read, so those who want a pleasant story and don't mind wading through some mistakes, I say give it a try. The two main characters are definitely redeeming enough to worm their way into your heart.
A favorite quote: “Sometimes trying to focus and think on something makes it even more elusive. Think on it, but don't hurt your brain on it, and I bet it'll come to you.”