Rummanah Aasi
Description (from Goodreads): Elizabeth Margaret—better known as Em—has always known what life would contain: an internship at her father’s firm, a degree from Harvard and a career as a lawyer. The only problem is that it’s not what she wants. When she gets the opportunity to get away from it all and spend a month with the aunt she never knew, she jumps at the chance. While there, Em pursues her secret dream of being a chef, and she also learns that her family has kept some significant secrets from her, too. And then there’s Cade, the laid-back local surfer boy who seems to be everything Em isn't. Naturally, she can’t resist him, and as their romance blossoms, Em feels she is living on her own terms for the first time.

Review: If you are looking for a breezy, fun beach read then look no further than Shannon Greenland's The Summer My Life Began. With likable characters and a familiar storyline, it was easy to sit back and enjoy the story without thinking too much.
  Em plans on enjoying her summer of freedom before her internship at a law firm and first semester of Harvard begin. She has always followed the rules and become the daughter they always wanted. One of Em's biggest fear is disappointing her parents. Em is a sweet character. She had the good balance of being mature yet also had a child-like aspect to her, especially when she is given the freedom to do pretty much whatever she wants while visiting her mysterious Aunt Tilly. I liked how she got along with everyone, especially her sister. I also admired her passion to cook and learn more about cooking various dishes, which allowed her true personality to come to life. Though I liked Em for the most part, I thought she was just a bit too perfect and well..wholesome. There wasn't any meat to her character.
  What I enjoyed the most about the book was the romance between Em and Cade, which starts off slowly and then deepens. Em and Cade were cute together and shared some sweet moments. Cade had the potential to be an interesting character as he struggles with his family issues, but these issues weren't fully realized.
  Like Cade's issues, there are a lot of underlying tension throughout the book, particularly around Aunt Tilly's relationship with Em's immediate family. I kept waiting for this to develop more, but it only simmered to the surface and quickly died out. Without these tensions, there isn't really any conflict in the book. If you're looking for a cute book where you can turn off your mind for a couple of hours, I'd give The Summer My Life Began a shot but don't expect it to blow your mind. I'd recommend it to tweens and parents who are looking for a clean, sweet, contemporary romance.   

Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Grades 6 and up.

If you like this book try: Seventeenth Summer by Maureen Daly, The Cupcake Queen by Heather Helper, The Sweetheart of Prosper County by Jill Alexander
9 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    I couldn't have said it better Rummanah, I felt the exact same way about this one! There was little tension and conflict, and while that meant my emotional investment was fairly low, I still thought it was a fun, light read:)

  2. I'm curious whether I'd like this. It sounds generically sweet but nothing is wrong with that. Em does sound a bit boring, but also sounds a lot like me. Great review!

  3. I have read numerous reviews aobut this book before yours, and no one is really excited about it. I keep hearing it just doesn't pan out and that the plot is all over the place. I have to say, I am not a huge fan of contemporary YA and this one is just not wowing everyone, so I am going to pass.

  4. Awwww...a sweet, slow building romance. I can never get enough of those. ;)

  5. Lauren M Says:

    I felt the same way! The Summer My Life Began was just an okay read for me. It's cute, but...not much else. I did enjoy the romance, though!
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. :)
    - Lauren

  6. Sometimes a cute book just fits the bill. I like that there is creativity in it through cooking. I need creativity in my contemp YA books. I think I may have to try this one.

  7. Candace Says:

    I think others have said it lacked OOMPH as well but sometimes its nice to read a more mindless less stressful sort of read. The romance sounds sweet so maybe I will watch for it at the library.

  8. Everyone knows how I feel about contemporary YA by now, hah! Lisa read and reviewed this one a while back and wasn't exactly thrilled by it, which removed it from my radar instantly. Your review only convinced me further that I'm right, despite the well-developed and believable romance.

  9. Rummanah, it looks like you had similar issues with this one. I thought Em was a little too perfect too and was really disappointed by the lack of conflict. I assumed it would be something huge but they didn't really make a big deal out of it.

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