April 17, 2014 by Bernadette ~ The Bumbling Bookworm
The Other Summer Girl by Sarah D. Towne
Publisher/Year: Self-Published, 29 January 2014
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Source: Received from the author
Other books from author: The Fall of Us (The Other Summer Girl #2) (expected publication July 2014)
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Melanie Collier is in her second semester at Indiana University. She’s learning how to survive the college experience with few friends and a V-card in mint condition.
She never imagined herself going to such a large university because it seemed just too impossible – too many people and too far from home. Freshman year was tough for Melanie.
She was counting down the days left until the year was over before she stopped in a friend’s room on her way back from the bathroom one night. After a chance meeting with an Australian and his Vegemite, Melanie learns how to slow down and take in her new life in Bloomington, Indiana.
Melanie might have found a second wind at IU, but will Melanie and Lleyton have the same chance surviving the summer, too…
What I Thought…
I really wanted to like this book… Really really. I wish I could say that I did, but I had some issues with this book and unfortunately it wasn’t for me.
Let me start with the positives. I felt that the writing was genuine, which is something you’ve either got or you don’t – it can’t be faked. This seems to be an accurate portrayal of the American college experience, at least from what I know about it, but I’m no expert 🙂 And, despite my comments that are coming below regarding Australianisms, Towne got one very important one totally correct – the Vegemite experience. Towne’s descriptions of Melanie’s first taste of Vegemite made me think she may have been a victim in the past of the classic prank pulled by Aussies over and over again (including this one). If that’s the case, my sympathies! For those of you not in the know, DO NOT accept a spoonful of Vegemite from an Aussie to taste. It DOES NOT taste like Nutella and I GUARANTEE it will not end well. Just ask any of my Italian relatives… If you ignore my advice, you will look like this:
Reading is a subjective experience and the fact that I’m Australian impacted on the experience I had when I read The Other Summer Girl. For one, Lleyton’s name was not original. I adore tennis, which features heavily in The Other Summer Girl by virtue of the fact that Lleyton’s a tennis player – I can’t play AT ALL but I love watching it. For those of you who are not Australian/don’t follow tennis, there is a very famous Aussie tennis player with the same first name and same surname initial as the Aussie tennis player in The Other Summer Girl, namely Lleyton Hewitt, Wimbledon and US Open champion. I never used to be a fan when he first started out, but as he’s gotten older (i.e. settled down, matured and stopped being such a tool) I’ve become a huge fan. All I could see when I was reading this was Lleyton Hewitt in the place of Lleyton Harris, and it just kept throwing me off. A non-Aussie probably wouldn’t have this problem.
Another issue was the use of Aussie slang, or what was purported to be Aussie slang. No Aussie male I know (or female for that matter) calls a girl’s virginity ‘V-plates’. Trust me, I checked. I even Googled it, just to make sure I wasn’t out of the loop! Also, Lleyton refers to someone as a ‘flicker’ in the book and I have no idea what that is – again, Google was of no help, nor was anyone I asked 😦 Aussies don’t refer to grown adults as “kiddo” and Aussie guys DO NOT call a girl ‘miss’ unless she’s his teacher. Cricket got a mention in the book, and I’m no expert but there is no Cricket World Championships – it’s the Cricket World Cup. Also, there’s no way Japan and Sweden would be playing professional Cricket, if at all – it’s a sport played by Commonwealth countries, introduced to the fomer colonies by the British Empire. See Wikipedia for more info, I don’t want to bore you stupid with cricket stats and colonial history!
Australian issues aside, this book also suffered from editting issues. It was littered with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, which kept throwing me off, as did the pacing and format of the novel. Whenever text messages or Facebook featured, I spent more time trying to work out who was ‘talking’ and it didn’t flow naturally. I also struggle with third-person narrative which didn’t help, but that’s me and not the book. The book also spent so much time setting up Lleyton and Melanie’s relationship and little time on the summer which forms the basis of the title, which was disappointing. Also, it seemed to jump back and forward in time a lot without warning for the first half, and this was off-putting and confusing.
Whilst I enjoyed the peripheral characters, particularly Melanie’s friends, I struggled to like the main characters. Lleyton annoyed the crap out of me as that typical guy I CANNOT stand. Whenever he was around, I thought of this:
Make up your mind dammit! Also, everytime he called Melanie ‘plates’ (in reference to her virginity – classy!) I cringed! So tasteless. I didn’t mind Melanie for most of the book, she was a bit all over the place in terms of her feelings for Lleyton but I could relate to that. Where she lost me was when she thought this:
She felt sexy and rich and luxurious in his expensive car, and she felt like someone inside of the car with him. She went from feeling like the lowest of the low on her floor heirarchy to the top and beyond in just the amount of time it took her to meet Lleyton.
And later, this (context, she’s just waved at another guy):
He completely ignored that he had interrupted that interaction Melanie just had. It showed his arrogance which Melanie somehow found sexy. She liked a guy to have confidence because it some how made her feel like they could show her the way.
The feminist in me was dying when I read those passages. Melanie, you do not need a man to feel good about yourself or to have self worth or to SHOW YOU THE WAY! She also wilfully ignores the fact that he is likely seeing another girl behind her back – HAVE SOME SELF RESPECT!!! Call him out on it!!! That’s pretty much what I was yelling at the book… Awkward, since I was on a train at the time…
I wanted to enjoy this book, and I’m so disappointed that I didn’t. Much of that was due to the fact that I’m Australian, and a lot of the things I took issue with wouldn’t trouble someone who knows little about Australia. There are the bones of a good book in here, however I found it too difficult to see past my issues with the book to fully enjoy it. A lot of those issues can be fixed with a good editor and some thorough research, and I hope that the sequel benefits from that.
Rating: 2 Stars
Have you read this book? What did you think of it?