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on January 22, 2011
My criterion for a great read is simple. You can't put it down! That's what I experienced when reading, "Something like Summer." I was immediately invested after the first couple of pages, and then it was all about the Benjamin. It surprised me how quickly I was enticed by the main character's candidness, wit and innocence. The author skillfully reminded me all of things that I loved about friendship, crushes, lust and hope. While at the same time dealing with the intrusions of mundane tribulations that always seemed to interfere with the best parts of life. OK, so maybe I identified too closely with Ben's journey, or perhaps the object of his affection felt like a reward for the injustices that he had to endure. You'll just to have to read it to find out. What I will tell you is this...be prepared to alter your life for a short time, cause once you start reading this book, I suspect you'll have a hard time concentrating on your daily grind, until you know how this one ends. It was that way for me, and I hope it will be the same for you as well.
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on January 20, 2011
I'm currently halfway through reading this book and had to stop just to take it all in. It's amazing. So much better than any other "gay story" I've ever read. It's inspiring, heartbreaking, and thoughtful. I find myself smiling while reading it and laughing at some witty humor, but I also find myself with watery eyes. The characters are so well thought out, so real, that I can't help but believe that they actually exist somewhere. Like I said, I'm only halfway through and I'm already in love. My only concern now is whether or not Jay Bell is going to seek out the movie deal that is well deserved for a story as heartfelt and daring as this. A story like this needed to be told. Gay teens are out, they are being taunted, but they are also having sex, and for too long we've had to choose between stories of romanticism, sex, and coming-of-age. Thankfully, this book now provides all three in a manner that is real, not merely fantasy. If you don't read this book, you're missing out. But, like I said, I just want it to become popular so a year or two down the road I can watch a few cute actors play out this story!
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on February 12, 2011
What could have been a simple and harmless coming of age story in the '90, in the hand of Jay Bell becomes a somewhat surprisingly deep and a little sad quest of a young man towards his future.

Of the many trouble gay kids I have read about, in novels filled with angst and drama, Ben Bentley is probably one of the luckier: he accepted he was gay at a more or less young age, around 14 years old, and after some months spent being the best "secret" friends of his fellow schoolmates, he decided to come out; this event had two consequences, one positive, his family is supportive of him and his mother arrives to give him relationship advices, and one negative, he has no more friends if not Allison, a same age girl who was a former friend of his older sister. But sincerely, being Ben in high school and almost read to face the big brave world, one year or two of abstinence from sex is not a big drama if he is lucky enough to have a welcoming habitat, his home, were he can grow up safe and comfortable.

For this reason, as many other ordinary teenagers in the world, Ben falls in love for a stranger he only crosses on the street while the other is jogging. Same age as Ben, he is probably a new kid at the same high school Ben will attend at the end of the summer; Ben stalks the other teenager until he is able to find out the name is Tim and he is living nearby. And indeed Tim attends the same high school. And the problem is that Ben has came out at school and so everyone, and above all the jocks Tim is friending, call Ben names. It's not easy for a gay kid to come out in high school, teenagers are not always welcoming, and above all they are still unsure of their own, and Ben is an unsettling presence, someone who scares some of them.

For an event and also thanks to Ben's insistence and perseverance, Tim and Ben make friends, but Tim doesn't want to acknowledge their friendship in public: not only Tim is from a very conservative family, he is also claiming (or pretending) that he is bisexual, and he has a poster girlfriend; plus Tim has his own issues at home, and some bad experiences in the past, and more or less he doesn't want to be on center stage, under the scrutiny of public opinion.

From a teenager perspective, and the reader external point of view, the relationship between Tim and Ben when they are in high school is unbalanced: Ben is obviously in love and Tim, as probably any other teenager in the world would do, is taking advantage of that; Tim is not a bad guy, most of the time he grants Ben everything the other kid wants, even when Tim knows it will be trouble for him. Little by little, I started to understand Tim's point of view, how Ben is pushing him at the pace that is probably too fast for him. Ben is not an adult, he is a kid, and like that, he cannot understand that very important things need time.

I will not really go further in describing the story, basically the story follows Ben and Tim from high school to college to their late twenty, sometime together sometime far from each other; Ben will also love someone else, Jace, and while Tim is Ben's first love, powerful and passionate, Jace is Ben's true love, cultivated and strong. It's quite impossible to say who Ben loves more, Tim and Jace are different kind of love, and I think Ben was lucky enough to experiment both of them. The strange thing is that, while Ben and Tim are obviously the "heroes" of this novel, the real good character, the perfect hero in a way, is Jace; I'm true, I think Ben and Tim are cute and nice, but they are also characters that need to grow, while instead Jace is a wonderful man, a light in the life of Ben, and probably the one that allowed Ben to move from kid to man.
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on April 27, 2011
** NO spoilers**

Up until nearly the end of this book it was rating 5 stars for me but the ending totally ruined the book. It is not that i didn't like the ending (well, i didn't, but that's not my complaint) it was just so totally rushed. There were massive changes and the resolution of the main story arc which were handled in just a few pages. I think i would have been happier with the ending if the author had given it the attention it deserved. Another gripe for me is really disliking one of the main characters, but that could just be me. In a way I wish the main part of the book wasn't as good, I hated becoming attached to the characters only to have the ending just thrust upon me with virtually no warning or explanation.
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on September 11, 2011
This book started out good and was a lot of fun to read for about the first 90% of it. There were still some things that were hard to believe, most especially Jace, the penultimate perfect boyfriend. And yet, it's easy to see why Ben would love Jace - not quite so easy why Jace would put up with Ben. Ben could be at times wise beyond his years and then extremely juvenile in the next instant. Ben's parents were way too open-minded, giving their teenage son free reign to do as he pleased, and that attendance system in Ben's high school was laughable at best. But for everything that felt contrived, there was a lot that was genuine, such as Ben's growing crush, his growing relationship with Tim, the meeting with the parents, and best friend's domestic troubles with her father to name a few.

The first two parts were well structured and well paced, but I have to say I ended up hating Tim by the end of part II and couldn't have cared less if he and Ben got back together or not. Frankly, I was hoping they wouldn't. Then the last part was far too rushed. It covered the longest period of time and yet was barely more than a few chapters. It felt contrived, and an "obstacle" in Tim and Ben's relationship is "conveniently" removed in the most melodramatic way possible. There is no HEA here, not that I necessarily require that, but the wrong couple won out at the end, leaving this reader feeling dissatisfied.
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on January 10, 2014
I finished this book a couple days ago and I’ve been thinking about it since. In some ways I really liked this book, in other ways I wanted to throw my kindle across the room the characters annoyed me so much.
There are really two stories in this book, a story of teenage romance between an openly gay 16yo and a closeted 17yo. Then there is the story of a college student, a flight attendant and an adult relationship.

The book opens with a story between Ben and Tim – two high school students in a wealthy Houston suburb. One had distant, disinterested parents and the other had exceptionally permissive parents. They went to a school where apparently few teachers cared if they attended class and they pretty much did as they pleased. Their story was fun and cute and it somewhat reminded me of how new, shiny and wonderful love was as a teenager.

Ben behaved occasionally like a dumb kid but sometimes he became this super kid who hold the world exactly how things were going to be and how people were going to behave – and the world did as instructed. Tim as a typical jock stuck between wanting to conform and wanting Ben. And, it ended like most of our high school loves ended. With anger, hurt, and shame.

The second story is the story of Ben and Jase. Ben is now 20 and in College when he meets Jase, a 26yo flight attendant. They fall in love, they fight, they make-up. They do all the things a young couple do when starting their life out together. All goes well for years until Tim comes back in Ben’s life ….

I didn't always get Jase and Ben as a couple but they worked. I didn't always believe them as a couple – some of the years went by pretty fast – but still it seemed to work.

In the end, I enjoyed the book. It didn't end the way I hoped and I didn't end the way I feared. Like I mentioned, I've been thinking about it for a couple days now.
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on February 15, 2013
When I first came upon this novel, I had my reservations as to how enjoyable it may be. After reading various other reviews, I decided to download the free trial. I was still 50/50 at the end of the trial, but then decided to go ahead and continue.

This story touched upon youthful memories as well as some of the more traumatic times of my life. I found myself getting so tied up in the characters that I would have to close the book at times as I became anxious for them. Hey I am 60 years old for crying out loud, I should be able to handle this! I would tell myself that they were only characters and not real people, but the characters seemed real to me. As I thought about it, life brings similar challenges to each of us that the characters faced in this story and I remembered that there is truth here for most of us.

If you like a great story that covers many years through the characters life as the mature, make mistakes, learn from them and sometimes still mess things up finding out that they are indeed fallible, Then you may enjoy watching the story of love and all the ups and downs that often comes with it as you read this novel. I give it high marks and I would highly recommend it.
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on February 6, 2011
Ah, first love! For many people, their first love is the most memorable of all. The experiences found in that first attraction tend to color any other future relationships we they may have. This is certainly true for Ben Bentley and Tim Wyman of 'Something Like Summer' by Jay Bell.

Ben is bright, talented and loving. He strives to live life on his own terms. Ben is very kind and has a deep- seated strength of character. With the help of Allison, his best friend, and Jace, his knight-in-shining-armor, guiding the way, Ben finds his inner strength and finally admits that regardless of how much he loves Tim, he can't sacrifice his own values.

Tim, also bright and talented, doesn't have Ben's good sense of direction. For fear of reprisal, he censures himself constantly; he hides behind a mask of propriety, only allowing himself to act on what he deems appropriate according to his family's standards. This self-deprecation injures his self esteem and his life almost beyond repair. Tim is so efficient with his misrepresentation that he begins to believe it himself. Ben is the only one who has seen behind his mask and tries to help Tim realize how much damage Tim is causing himself. Not only that, Ben knows that Tim has a bright light all of his own, but also knows that it's up to him to make it shine so others can see it too.

I loved this book. I read the whole thing, all 192 pages of it, in one day. Due to Jay's easy, understandable style, I was led through the happy times and the sad ones, sometimes by gently holding his hand and in others by gripping it tightly, but what a ride. 'Something Like Summer' not only has lots of passion, humor, angst, and twists and turns, it also takes an in depth look at how the choices we make in life affect not only ourselves, but everyone around us. I loved that Ben and Tim were able to apply what they learned from their sad and painful experiences and come together once again. The message in 'Something Like Summer' reminds us all that the best way to have a satisfying life, is to be true to ourselves.
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on January 4, 2013
My title pretty much sums it up. I would give it 3.5 stars if I could, because overall the book was a pleasurable and relatively fast read. For the most part, Benjamin is a lovable character, willing to do anything for those closest to him. That, combined with his unrealistic expectations of others, eccentric stalking tendencies, and unstable love life, keeps the story interesting. The beginning is a plot more or less like your typical gay teen coming of age novel, with a few interesting twists and a little more complexity in secondary characters. Yes! This book actually has a few characters beyond the typically isolated and private romance! However, these sub-plots are short lived, and once part two begins, the book becomes even more focused on Benjamin and his love life.

His character does seem to grow over the course of the novel; although, it is occasionally frustrating to see him sporadically regress to a younger self on more than one occasion. In spite of the few downsides I mentioned, this book could have been a 4 1/2 or 5 star story. Had the author taken a little more time to develop more round and dynamic characters, exploring Ben's interpersonal relationships beyond love and sex, it could have been great. Jay Bell is definitely a good and compelling writer, but I get the feeling that as he was nearing the end, he either realized that he'd written himself into a corner and didn't know what to do, or he couldn't choose between two endings that he loved. The result was a finale with a dues ex machina leaving the reader disappointed cheated, regardless of which resolution they were hoping for.

Regardless, I would still read this book again, and I would definitely recommend it to anybody looking for a story about youthful romance that feels like more than a one night stand. The book is even good enough to make me read Something Like Winter, the companion novel from another character's point of view.
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on February 5, 2012
"Life isn't meant to be hidden away and life is too short for shame."

That's the way Ben has tried to live his life. He's openly gay in his high school, and can't wait to finish up and move out into the real world. Away from the piss ant Texas town where the only boys who want to have anything to do with him are in it for sex only, and don't know him in the light of day.

When he sees a new boy around during his summer break, he makes it his mission to find out who he is. He doesn't recognize him and begins stalking him. Well, following him around at least. Discovers he is a new student at the high school and runs with the jock crowd.

After a run in with the boy - literally - he helps him, Tim, home and discovers he's home alone for two weeks while Tim's parents are traveling. When Tim's sprain sidelines him from school and driving, Ben worms his way into helping out. And soon falls for the boy. only to have his interest returned.

But Tim isn't willing to admit to being gay, or really even bi. That leaves Ben in a moral dilemma - stay true to his principles or be Tim's dirty little secret. When circumstances force the boys closer to being out, Tim and Ben find themselves at a crossroads. And Tim chooses.

Over the next decade, the two move from lovers to enemies to reluctant friends, with huge gaps of time in between. The course of love never runs smoothly, but will these two find their way back to each other? Will Tim ever find the strength to be true to himself? And will Ben forgive the past?

Jay Bell has crafted a timeless classic here. He's taken all the hot button items of a young gay teen - acceptance, puppy love, heartache - and carried the themes through into adulthood. His hand is sure as he guides us through the rollercoaster of emotions involved in loving someone not willing to be proud of that love. The laughter and tears, along with the bruised heart.

Ben is a wonderful character, so full of youthful optimism, piss and vinegar. And when his heart is broken, we ache along with him because who among us haven't been there? Felt that sense of betrayal and questioning at loving a "Straight" guy who won't come out.

And Tim. I find him easily the most fascinating character in the book. By turns loveable and caring, then despicable and manipulating, he has the toughest road to travel. Self centered and a coward, he has the most to lose and the most to gain.

I loved Jace. A writer with less talent would have made him brittle, shrill or two dimensional. But Mr. Bell has rounded him out and made me love him. I cared that he and Ben were happy, and what happened to him was important. And made the story even richer and more meaningful.

This is a terrific book about first and long lasting love, being true to one's self, and discovering the strength in love.

Just damn good.

Tom
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