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The Summer I Wasn't Me Paperback – April 1, 2014
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Lexi Hamilton feels her homosexuality is too much of a burden on her recently widowed mother, so she agrees to go away for the summer. At Camp Horizon, a Christian "un-gaying" institution on the East Coast, each teen reveals his or her past trauma in group therapy sessions led by the evil Jeremiah Martin. What keeps campers cooperating is that, like Lexi, the reality they've gotten away from seems much worse. Only Matthew, in love with Justin at home, remains aloof, until Mr. Martin selects him for his personal brand of mistreatment, and a rebellion ensues. Kids' doubts and misgivings about both identity and religious beliefs get a good airing here, and two books familiar to high school readers—The Great Gatsby and the "Harry Potter" series—provide an interesting backdrop for these discussions. The trouble with The Summer I Wasn't Me is that since Lexi is likable from the start, we know she isn't going to change; good for her, but tough on readers, who must endure a contrived and drawn-out ending that attempts to convert this too-long novel into a page-turner.—Georgia Christgau, Middle College High School, Long Island City, NY
Since the death of Lexi’s father, Lexi’s conservative Christian mother has been a shell of herself. When she discovers the truth about Lexi’s sexuality, her depression worsens, so Lexi agrees to attend a camp that promises to make her straight. But when she falls for a fellow camper, Lexi becomes conflicted. With this crush, as well as a new friend who doesn’t believe in what the camp preaches, Lexi has to decide how she can be true to herself and still keep her family together. Lexi comes off as a bit naive about her camp experience, and the characters that surround her aren’t always fully fleshed out. Furthermore, the eventual reveal about the camp leader and the truth about what has been happening is a bit predictable. But even given the overly neat resolution of Lexi’s crush on Carolyn, their relationship develops in a satisfying way. This would be a fine additional purchase for libraries looking to shore up their LGBT collection. Grades 9-12. --Sarah Bean Thompson
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Top Customer Reviews
At first, Lexi has some hope. The director of the camp claims he's been straight and happy for ten years. Most of the counselors also say that the program worked for them. Lexi just wants her mother to be okay again and is willing to do whatever that takes. Her resolve is seriously weakened when she's placed in a group of four teens with Carolyn, a quiet and beautiful blonde from Connecticut. The two boys in the group, Matthew and Daniel are interesting opposites. Daniel is continually abused both verbally and physically by his dad who drinks. He'll do anything to feel normal and stop the abuse. Matthew is fine being gay and even has a long-term relationship back home. His father, however can't stand the thought of a gay son and has issued an ultimatum: Make it through the two month program, or don't come home.
The story takes you through the exercises designed to reprogram the teens as well as giving the reader an intimate look at how camper ticks and why. As the camp session goes on, Lexi begins to start questioning the methods, and more importantly, the supposed success of the program. When she can't hide her attraction for Caroline and Matthew steps over the line and is placed in a very frightening and dangerous situation, Lexi, Daniel and Caroline have to decide what's really important.
This is one heck of a book, but it has the potential to polarize people. Those who are of the mindset that homosexuality is a learned trait, will not like this book, those who are more open-minded may well like it as much as I did. Regardless of how you feel, this is a great book for creating a dialogue about an extremely important issue that many teens and their families face.