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Summer Sisters Mass Market Paperback – May 4, 1999

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Editorial Reviews Review

Judy Blume first won legions of fans with such young adult classics as Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret and Forever, in which she tackles the cultural hot button of teenage sexuality. In Summer Sisters, her third novel for adults, the author again explores the ramifications of love--and lust--on two friends. Initially, the differences between Caitlin Somers and Victoria Leonard (or "Vix," as Caitlin christens her) draw them together: privileged Caitlin is wild and outspoken, beautiful but emotionally fragile, while working-class Vix is shy, reserved, and plain in comparison. After Caitlin selects Vix to accompany her to her father's home in Martha's Vineyard for the summer, the two become inextricably connected as "summer sisters."

On the Vineyard, Vix and Caitlin first find love, then sex--and lots of it. Yet Blume soon moves beyond hot fun in the summer sun, tracing the romantic and familial travails of the two from pre-adolescence to adulthood. Solid Vix evolves into Victoria, an equally solid, Harvard-educated, Manhattan public-relations exec. Unpredictable Caitlin opts out of college and travels to Europe, where she has a string of short-lived affairs with a series of intriguing (in every sense of the word) foreigners. It is only after she returns to the Vineyard that Caitlin does the unthinkable, forever changing both her friendship with Vix and their lives. Blume once again proves herself a master of the female psyche, and Summer Sisters is likely to entertain both her postadolescent and more mature readers. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

YA-Caitlin lives with her mother in Sante Fe, but spends summers on a New England island with her father, brother, and stepmother. Both parents give her free rein, and her beauty, independence, and talent for getting away with outrageous behavior make her an intriguing star to her middle school classmates. Victoria can't understand why Caitlin would single her out to be her "summer sister" on Martha's Vineyard as she sees herself as quiet and dull. She senses, though, that this vacation is an important turning point and convinces her conservative parents to let her go. The girls become fast friends, sharing six unforgettable summers together. The strength of the novel lies in the portrayal of those six seasons. The author provides an engaging tableau of teenage experiences, worries, and emotions. Together, the girls cope with their changing bodies, difficult family relationships, boyfriends, and concerns about their futures. After high school graduation, Victoria goes on to college and a career while Caitlin travels to Europe and spins out of control. She even marries Victoria's former lover and has his child before escaping to Europe alone again. The end of the novel seems rushed but, overall, both the story and the girls will quickly capture readers' interest. The author's perceptive treatment of special childhood moments, the trials and joys of adolescence, and the magical possibilities of summer make this an entertaining read.
Mary Alice Giarda, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Dell (May 4, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440226430
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440226437
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.1 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,266 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #79,719 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Judy Blume spent her childhood in Elizabeth, NJ, making up stories inside her head. She has spent her adult years in many places, doing the same thing, only now she writes her stories down on paper. Adults as well as children will recognize such Blume titles as: Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret; Superfudge; Blubber; Just As Long As We're Together; and Forever. She has also written the best-selling novels Wifey; Smart Women; and, Summer Sisters. More than 75 million copies of her books have been sold, and her work has been translated into twenty-six languages.
She receives thousands of letters each month from readers of all ages who share their feelings and
concerns with her.
Judy received a B.S. in education from New York University in 1961, which named her a Distinguished Alumna in 1996, the same year that American Library Association honored her with the Margaret A. Edwards Award for Lifetime Achievement. She has won more than ninety awards, none more important than those coming directly from her youngest readers.
She serves on the boards of the Author's Guild, currently as Vice President; the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, where she sponsors an award for contemporary fiction; and the National Coalition Against Censorship, working to protect intellectual freedom. In Spring 2002, Judy was a spokesperson for the Cheerios "A Book for Every Child" literacy campaign which benefited Reading is Fundamental, America's largest literacy organization. She is also the founder and trustee of The Kids Fund, a charitable and educational foundation.
Judy's first book in the Fudge series, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, was published in 1972. She is thrilled to be celebrating its 30th Anniversary with the publication of Double Fudge. Just as generations of fans have loved the Fudge books, generations of Judy's family have inspired them. Thirty years ago, Fudge was inspired by her son, Larry, and now Double Fudge was written at the request of her grandson, Elliot.
Judy lives on islands up and down the East Coast with her husband George Cooper. They have three grown children and one grandchild.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Ratmammy VINE VOICE on July 27, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The story of a rather one-sided friendship is told in Judy Blume's SUMMER SISTERS. Victoria (Vix) meets Caitlin as young schoolmates, and for some reason although the two of them are worlds apart, Caitlin chooses Vix as her guest to summer with her family on Martha's Vineyard. Vix has always been the quiet one, and Caitlin is the wild and crazy one. And despite their differences, Vix seems to be attracted to Caitlin's life, including her family and Caitlin's' rather eccentric ways.
The story opens in the present (1990), with Vix receiving a call from Caitlin, saying she's inviting Vix to her wedding. The brief prologue sets the stage, with Vix a bit perturbed by the phone call and torn between being angry with Caitlin, but also thinking "summer sisters forever". It is obvious that there is a love-hate relationship between the two, or at least that is how Vix feels about her long time friend Caitlin.
Their summers together on Martha's Vineyard are full of fun and laughter. But as they get older, Caitlin's selfishness starts to show. Vix however takes it all without too much complaining, always finding reasons to forgive Caitlin. Caitlin's selfish behavior is not obvious to all, but are subtle and often times happen in shocking ways.
As the two start to meet and date boys, Caitlin's behavior in this department is directly opposite in the way Vix handles herself with the boys, and on one night, Vix celebrates her birthday with Caitlin and the boys and it ends up a disastrous moment for Vix. (Caitlin, on the other hand, sees nothing wrong with what she has done, and thinks it's all in good fun).
As the two girls become young women, their differences tear them apart.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By GadgetChick on July 27, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I picked up this book before a beach vacation because I figured it would be a quick, easy read. It was, but it was also a pretty compelling story. Note I didn't say "perfect" story, or "complex" story - but it was compelling.

I think the people who are most likely to relate to this book are the ones who have been in a lopsided friendship like Caitlin and Vix's. I had a friend who was very much like Caitlin - extremely self-centered, yet demanded absolute attention, closeness and loyalty. She would swear her undying love and friendship, then turn into the cruelest, most indifferent person I had ever met, if she met someone or came across something that was more interesting to her than I was. Caitlin is an absolute narcissist, and Vix is just vulnerable enough to mistake their relationship for a friendship - until the end of the book. The book made me re-examine my "friendship" with the Caitlinesque girl I had known, and looking back on things with the wisdom of experience, I can see that I - like Vix - allowed myself to be treated poorly. However, there's also a lot this book says about unconditional love, and how you can still be friends with someone like Caitlin, as long as a. you understand that there's only so much they have to give you, because so much of their emotion is turned inwards and b. you can still be friends with someone despite deeply disapproving of their choices.

Judy Blume is not the best writer in the world but I don't think she's trying to be. This is an excellent book for what it is - a piece of entertainment. I don't think it's meant to be another "War and Peace." There are some plot holes, the narrative style is a little uneven and the first-person/third-person switchbacks can get annoying, and the ending is somewhat trite. But if you're looking for something you can read that will be emotionally engaging, but not too intellectually taxing, you could do a lot worse than this book.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Dana J. Tommaney on February 5, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I, too, am a Judy Blume fan from years ago as a teenager and was excited to read Blume as an 'adult' writer. I was not disappointed. Though shocking at times, this story of the friendship that blossoms between unlikely friends - Caitlin and Victoria - drew me in and held me tight. I loved the honesty and frankness in Blume's writing, especially when talking about the growing and changing in these young women's bodies and minds. I'm sure these are things many young girls have thought about and experimented with, but no other author addresses them so openly. The story continues as these two young girls explore love and sex and relationships apart from each other, yet remaining best friends through it all.
The tragic ending was a surprise but I appreciated the reality of the book, rather than wrapping it up all neat and clean. Victoria deserved true happiness, after being loyal to her first friend for so long, and I'm glad she found it.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 23, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Judy Blume is my favorite author, and once again, she has not let me down. This is by FAR my favorite book. I got lost in it over the summer and read it in 3 days. She captures the characters' emotions and the scenery so beautifully that I was disappointed when I reached the end because I wanted there to be more. If you haven't already, trust me when I tell you to READ THIS BOOK!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 22, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Full disclosure: I'm just beginning to read fiction again. I have been a hard-core nonfiction/periodical reader of late and the novel-reading thing is a bit wierd to get back into.
This was VERY highly recommended to me. Because of the passionate exhortation I thought I might as well give it a shot.
In a nutshell, this book is of a adolescent friendship that is both stronger and weaker than its two participants.
Vix is the stoic from a splintering New Mexico family. Her mother, who struggled so hard to bring to term her four children, has basically abdicated her role because she simply can't handle the demands of four kids, a nearly-silent husband and being an aide to an old rich woman. Vix, the oldest, is dying to get away from an environment rank with disappointment and cynicism. What better way than as the 'summer sister' of the new girl in class, Caitlin?
Caitlin is vibrant, beautiful, sharp and outspoken. She goes every summer to Marthas Vineyard to stay with her dad, Lamb. She needs a friend to go with her, and she picks the quiet Vix.
Of course this book is filled with the type of summer adventures that can rock your world when you are a girl aged 12-18. That is the meat of the book, and I take my hat off to Judy Blume for replicating the type of situations that can be the highlight of being 13 years old. She shows the oddness of the friendship very well. We all know that each friendship we have is wholly different from all others we have, and in the this book we see that. They are summer sisters, no more or less. They are closer than imaginable during the summers at the Vineyard, and yet they move on with their lives when they are apart. You know the friendship is still there, but it's the type that only needs maintenance at scheduled intervals.
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