So, I was contacted by a publicist at Sourcebooks in March about a blog tour for The Summer After You & Me, asking if I would like to participate. I signed up excitedly and they sent me content for a spotlight, along with a tour-wide Rafflecoptor giveaway for 5 copies of The Summer After You & Me, which means that one of you guys could enter and have a chance to win!
Also, quick disclaimer here: I'm NOT being sponsored by Sourcebooks or the author to put this post up. I'm NOT getting any money out of this, and all opinions are entirely my own.
I've included an excerpt of the book at the bottom of the post, if you want to take a look at what the writing style looks and feels like. Don't worry, it's a non-spoiler excerpt and you don't have to read it unless you want to.
Publication Date: May 1, 2015
For Lucy, the Jersey Shore isn't just the perfect summer escape, it's home. As a local girl, she knows not to get attached to the tourists. They breeze in during Memorial Day weekend, crowding her coastal town and stealing moonlit kisses, only to pack up their beach umbrellas and empty promises on Labor Day. Still, she can't help but crush on charming Connor Malloy. His family spends every summer next door, and she longs for their friendship to turn into something deeper.
Then Superstorm Sandy sweeps up the coast, bringing Lucy and Connor together for a few intense hours. Except nothing is the same in the wake of the storm, and Lucy is left to pick up the pieces of her broken heart and her broken home. Time may heal all wounds, but with Memorial Day approaching and Connor returning, Lucy's summer is sure to be filled with fireworks.
I was really looking forward to reading this, even before I was contacted by Sourcebooks. I hadn't really read a contemporary that took place at a beach, so I was excited to see if everything really lived up to the hype. I was also looking for a contemporary that I know I will enjoy, and this seemed like it would fit that perfectly.
Reading the synopsis at first, I was interested enough to pick up the book, but when I started to read it, I realized that it was about so much more than just a summer fling. It revolved around friendships, family, rebuilding life after a storm, and understanding more about yourself. There is so much more to the plot than a love story, and I think that was one thing that really pulled me into the book.
Aside from dealing with love, the book also dealt a lot of with friendship and family. Lucy is a fraternal twin, having an older brother, and her parents are both quite successful people. She has grown up with her best friends since kindergarten and watched as each of them slowly moved into romantic relationships. Somewhere near the middle of the book, Lucy begins to deal with friend problems and issues within her family that she isn't too happy with, all of which play a decent part in the overall storyline and her love life.
I actually thought that the whole idea of the book was really cool, and I really liked how it explored Lucy's love life. The blurb already makes it pretty clear that Lucy has a thing with a boy named Connor, but the other thing we find out in the first chapter or so, is that she's dating her best friend from childhood, Andrew. Now, I'm not one to usually enjoy a love triangle like this, but I think that the author did a really good job when exploring both angles. It was fun to see how Lucy acted when she was around the two boys separately, and I liked that she had a harder time making a decision, rather than just switching from one boy to another in the blink of an eye.
The fact that the author chose to make Lucy wonder about what she truly wanted and which guy she really had feelings for, made me think that this was all the more realistic. I liked that Lucy had a hard time choosing, because that means she cared about both guys and she's just a normal girl, like me. While I can't say that her decisions always had a logical side to them, I do think that not all choices, especially when concerning teenaged love, make sense all the time.
The plot, as entertaining as it was, didn't necessarily have a lot of depth to it. This was just a fluffy contemporary with several good points and lessons, but it's not something you can really expect a life lesson from. It's mostly just a fun, beachy read that you can complete in a few hours.
I think that the author did a great job with spreading out the storylines and how she wanted them to all align in the end. I liked how the ending played out. It kept me reading until the very end because I wanted to know what exactly would happen.
I quite liked Lucy throughout the book. There were a few moments where I got a little frustrated with her for the decisions she made, but for the most part, I liked her. She was relatable and easy to like, though I can't say that I found a lot in common with her. But I did think that her passion and her life goals were really admirable. Both of which are things that I don't often see in YA contemporary books - protagonists with strong passions and clear goals for the future.
Connor was...well, quite the expected love interest. Charming, handsome, witty, sarcastic when needed, and pretty much the kind of guy that a girl would want to meet during a beach vacation. He didn't really impact me much as a character, and that might be partly because I didn't find him very interesting. Nothing about him really stood out to me, except that he didn't talk about college at all, despite being a senior.
Lucy's girlfriends were both likable, and kind of reminded me a bit of a couple of my girlfriends. I liked that they handled things in a realistic manner and that their actions had proper, logical reasons, instead of just being teenaged cattiness and stereotypical, girly fights.
I would say something about Lucy's twin brother, but I feel like he's one of those characters that you just need to read about on your own, without much of anyone else's opinion. And same goes for her childhood best friend/boyfriend.
4.5 stars, and yes, I would recommend this to anyone who wants a light contemporary. I wouldn't say it's up there with some of the highly popular YA contemporaries, but it's enjoyable enough to hold it's own.
I'll definitely be looking out for any more of Jennifer Doktorski's other works and I think I'll pick up her next book, whenever it comes out.
I'd like to give a big thank you to Amelia Narigon, the publicist at Sourcebooks that contacted me about this blog tour and gave me a chance to participate. I'd also like to thank Sourcebooks for approving my NetGalley request in exchange for an honest review.
Connor opened the gorgeous double doors, each with half-moon stained-glass windows on the top, and motioned me inside. “After you.”
The house had that distinct yet hard-to-describe smell of a beach home that had been closed up for a while. I walked to the center of the high-ceilinged foyer and immediately pictured pine garland and twinkling white lights wrapped around the sweeping banister.
“Wow. I’d love to spend Christmas here,” I said and immediately regretted being so sappy.
Connor smiled. “You could fit a twelve-foot tree in this hallway.”
I admit, over the years I’ve had my share of Connor-centric fantasies. However the image of him watching his children pad down the stairs on Christmas morning had never been one of them…until that very second. I liked thinking about Connor that way.
“Come on. You’ve got to see the master bedroom.”
The wholesome image of a Malloy family Christmas vanished. Aha, I thought. That was the Connor I knew.
“Uh-uh,” I said. “The widow’s walk. I want to go there first.”
“Race you,” he said and took off running.
He beat me up the two flights and was waiting for me in the third-floor hallway toward the back of the house. Off the hallway was an art studio, with a drafting table and a bookcase. There was also a telescope standing near the window.
“Follow me.” He crossed the studio and unlocked the deadbolt to the narrow door leading outside.
“You’ve already been up there?”
“First thing I did when I got here,” Connor said.
“Not the master bedroom?”
“Nah, that’s the first thing I wanted to do when you got here.”
I thought it was just more flirty banter, but Connor’s flushed cheeks looked as warm as my body felt. He stared at me for a beat too long and my throat constricted. I was suddenly aware that I’d left the house with slept-on hair and no mascara. The look on Connor’s face told me he hadn’t noticed. His eyes never left mine.
Finally he said, “Come on, Luce. I’ll follow you.” The space was tight when I passed in front of him, and the closeness of his body gave me the shivers. I opened the door and stepped outside onto a small patio. I walked toward the wrought-iron spiral staircase that lead to the widow’s walk on the roof and placed my hand on the railing. My knees felt shaky as I began the climb, but I never looked back.
About the author: Jennifer Salvato Doktorski is the author of two YA novels and is a freelance nonfiction writer. Her first paid writing gig was at The North Jersey Herald & News, where she wrote obituaries and began her lifelong love of news and coffee. She lives in New Jersey with her family.