The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
From the blurb:
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.
Imagine you're 17, on the verge of graduating from high school, and your whole life is planned out for you - follow in your father's footsteps by attending Harvard, getting a law degree, joining his firm, marrying an appropriate boy and producing the requisite 2.5 children. Imagine that's not the life you envision for yourself, but you're stuck - afraid to speak your mind because your pretentious, cold-hearted mother, emotionally distant father and snobbish, grand-standing grandmother have forgotten that you're your own person and have since your birth tried to mold you into what they think is the perfect daughter. You've been bullied your whole life into thinking that you will only be loved if you live up to their expectations of you.
Imagine you're receiving a card for graduation from an aunt you've never heard of, inviting you to spend the summer with her in the Outer Banks, NC, offering you the chance to get away and get a glimpse at a different kind of life.
Such is the situation with which this book opens. Em feels trapped and, with shaking knees, she makes a stand and fights for getting to spend some time with her aunt before joining the grown-up world. Once she arrives on the island, she really starts to question her pre-determined future.
What I liked most about this book was the gradual growth of the heroine, and her perseverance. She waffled a bit when it came to making a love connection, and she certainly fit the bill of a 17 yo girl, what with her two steps forward, one step back, and curiosity when she realizes that there's a big family secret that's been hidden away for, well, 17 years.
The author paints a realistic picture of a young girl at the edge of adulthood, struggling with what she wants for herself and what her parents expect of her, one who's finding the strength to choose her life for herself.
An enjoyable read.
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