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Summer Sisters Hardcover – May 4, 1998

4.1 out of 5 stars 1,521 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com 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.

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.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press (May 4, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385324057
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385324052
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.3 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,521 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,071,623 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I don't understand the negative reviews for this book, calling it "banal", "tripe", and "girly foolishness". Obviously these are people who just "don't get it" and would never survive one summer in the ramshackle cottage on Martha's Vineyard with the Somers family. I LOVE this book. I've read it and re-read it over the years, from a tattered paperback, and recently bought it digitally to add to my Kindle library. Though I have not been part of a "summer sisters" style friendship, nor suffered betrayals from friends on the level of those in this tale, I can relate to the teenage friendship between the two girls. Judy Blume paints a lush portrait of an era, a location, and the conflicting characters and scenes: the high desert of New Mexico versus Cape Cod, the wealthy versus the lower middle class, and spoiled, needy Caitlin versus serious and pragmatic Vix.

I grew up reading Judy Blume, but I'm no teen now. I'm in my 40s. Blume's graceful writing style never disappoints. Negative reviewers that have complained the young teens focus too much energy on their budding sexuality have obviously forgotten what it's like to be that age. In using varying viewpoints and characters narratives to tell the story, each character is well-developed from their own words and conversations as well as through the observations of others. As another reviewer astutely pointed out, Caitlin is the only one not given a voice. We only see her in the 3rd person, and I think that is intentional, as her character remains mysterious and conflicted in her motivations to the very (sad) end.

1970s- '80s Martha's Vineyard and the late 20th century in general are characters in the story as well, and Blume expresses them both very dynamically.
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