Judy Blume first won legions of fans with such young adult classics as Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret
, 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
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