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Summer Sisters ****** Judy Blume Initially I found it somewhat difficult to categorize this book: I would say it’s a little bit too serious to be chick lit, yet not quite serious enough to be considered women’s literature. Eventually I settled for chick lit, overall it just seems to fit this genre better. A powerful, emotionally riveting story about a female friendship beginning in the early teens and spanning 19 years, “Summer Sisters” is definitely not the laugh-out- loud, feel-good fuzzy read that pink dreams are made of. But despite its ambitions of being something of an epic, a classic coming-of-age type of novel it still possesses enough subtle, warm humor and such light, flowing style as to make it extremely entertaining and quite perfect for those long days at the beach! The tale of the complex, challenging relationship between the poor “good girl” Victoria and the rich “wild child” Caitlin takes us through all the stages of their early teenage years and well into the adulthood, describing all the good, the bad and the ugly elements that are usually part of the deal that we call friendship. Every year the two girls spend their vacation together at Martha’s Vineyard, true “summer sisters” equally united and conflicted as they each experience their sexual awakening, first love, complicated family dynamics and ultimately the bitter taste of betrayal. Even though the plot might sound vaguely familiar, there isn’t anything cookie-cutter about it. Frankly I found the novel quite fascinating and could not wait to find out what would happen next: its unpredictable and surprising twists definitely kept me guessing all the way until the shocking end. Are you tired of books where you can foresee with relative ease exactly what will go down after just the first few pages? Well, this is definitely not one of them! Despite its third-person narrative the story is mostly told from Victoria’s point of view, which gives us a good glimpse into the way she perceives the world. However it does seem like an unfair advantage sometimes, since we are denied the same intimate look at Caitlin’s psyche and can only see her through the eyes of the others. It makes it nearly impossible to figure out the true motives that drive this ambiguous character; at the same time we are offered ample opportunity to interpret her behavior ourselves. Is she a privileged, spoiled and selfish brat? Or maybe deep inside she is just a misunderstood misfit, hiding her fragile, vulnerable side behind all the outrageousness?  Be that as it may, Caitlin certainly possesses the ability to polarize and is by far the most interesting and enigmatic persona in the whole eclectic ensemble of characters revolving around Victoria. The latter is quite obviously meant to play the role of the main Heroine: it’s her reality we are constantly confronted with. Only sometimes she falls a bit flat and even on the pages of her own novel manages to be upstaged by her best friend and nemesis in one. To counteract the monotony of the heterodiegetic narrative the author applies  a very clever trick, namely interrupts it every so often with a first person account, presented by different characters participating in the story arch and privy to currently described events. This serves to add some variety to the otherwise consistent style. I for one really enjoyed the fact that each individual was given a unique, distinct voice and expressed exactly what they had on their minds, even though sometimes those reflections were not particularly profound or constructive. But they appeared like something a real human being would think and let’s face it: none of us walk around creating philosophical dissertations in our heads 24/7. Well, maybe some of you do. Respect! Sadly I do not belong to this obviously elite circle (My usual musings: should I pretend that my knee hurts so I don’t have to exercise? Ehem, yes, indeed the ways of the Universe are a never ending riddle. Hmmm, maybe I should have just a tiny slice of cake?). I would very much recommend “Summer Sisters” to anybody looking for a relatively light read, but favoring something not completely devoid of substance. If you want a page-turner describing a succession of glamorous parties and what our Ugly Duckling Heroine (on her way to becoming the Beautiful Swan) wore to each one (amid all of her cute mishaps) to land the elusive, modern-day Mr. Darcy (sigh, why does it always have to be him?) then steer clear of this book. If you want to indulge in some moderate psychoanalyzing of the intricacies of the female friendship, here is your chance!
RATING     ****** excellent     ***** very good     ****good     *** average     ** pretty bad     * horrible
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Summer Sisters ****** Judy Blume Initially I found it somewhat difficult to categorize this book: I would say it’s a little bit too serious to be chick lit, yet not quite serious enough to be considered women’s literature. Eventually I settled for chick lit, overall it just seems to fit this genre better. A powerful, emotionally riveting story about a female friendship beginning in the early teens and spanning 19 years, “Summer Sisters” is definitely not the laugh-out-loud, feel-good fuzzy read that pink dreams are made of. But despite its ambitions of being something of an epic, a classic coming-of-age type of novel it still possesses enough subtle, warm humor and such light, flowing style as to make it extremely entertaining and quite perfect for those long days at the beach! The tale of the complex, challenging relationship between the poor “good girl” Victoria and the rich “wild child” Caitlin takes us through all the stages of their early teenage years and well into the adulthood, describing all the good, the bad and the ugly elements that are usually part of the deal that we call friendship. Every year the two girls spend their vacation together at Martha’s Vineyard, true “summer sisters” equally united and conflicted as they each experience their sexual awakening, first love, complicated family dynamics and ultimately the bitter taste of betrayal. Even though the plot might sound vaguely familiar, there isn’t anything cookie-cutter about it. Frankly I found the novel quite fascinating and could not wait to find out what would happen next: its unpredictable and surprising twists definitely kept me guessing all the way until the shocking end. Are you tired of books where you can foresee with relative ease exactly what will go down after just the first few pages? Well, this is definitely not one of them! Despite its third-person narrative the story is mostly told from Victoria’s point of view, which gives us a good glimpse into the way she perceives the world. However it does seem like an unfair advantage sometimes, since we are denied the same intimate look at Caitlin’s psyche and can only see her through the eyes of the others. It makes it nearly impossible to figure out the true motives that drive this ambiguous character; at the same time we are offered ample opportunity to interpret her behavior ourselves. Is she a privileged, spoiled and selfish brat? Or maybe deep inside she is just a misunderstood misfit, hiding her fragile, vulnerable side behind all the outrageousness?  Be that as it may, Caitlin certainly possesses the ability to polarize and is by far the most interesting and enigmatic persona in the whole eclectic ensemble of characters revolving around Victoria. The latter is quite obviously meant to play the role of the main Heroine: it’s her reality we are constantly confronted with. Only sometimes she falls a bit flat and even on the pages of her own novel manages to be upstaged by her best friend and nemesis in one. To counteract the monotony of the heterodiegetic narrative the author applies  a very clever trick, namely interrupts it every so often with a first person account, presented by different characters participating in the story arch and privy to currently described events. This serves to add some variety to the otherwise consistent style. I for one really enjoyed the fact that each individual was given a unique, distinct voice and expressed exactly what they had on their minds, even though sometimes those reflections were not particularly profound or constructive. But they appeared like something a real human being would think and let’s face it: none of us walk around creating philosophical dissertations in our heads 24/7. Well, maybe some of you do. Respect! Sadly I do not belong to this obviously elite circle (my usual musings: should I pretend that my knee hurts so I don’t have to exercise? Ehem, yes, indeed the ways of the Universe are a never ending riddle. Hmmm, maybe I should have just a tiny slice of cake?). I would very much recommend “Summer Sisters” to anybody looking for a relatively light read, but favoring something not completely devoid of substance. If you want a page-turner describing a succession of glamorous parties and what our Ugly Duckling Heroine (on her way to becoming the Beautiful Swan) wore to each one (amid all of her cute mishaps) to land the elusive, modern-day Mr. Darcy (sigh, why does it always have to be him?) then steer clear of this book. If you want to indulge in some moderate psychoanalyzing of the intricacies of the female friendship, here is your chance!
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