Title: The Summer I Wasn’t Me
Author: Jessica Verdi
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: 4-1-14
Genre: Young Adult, LGBT, Contemporary
Lexi has a secret.
She never meant for her mom to find out. And now she’s afraid that what’s left of her family is going to fall apart for good.
Lexi knows she can fix everything. She can change. She can learn to like boys. New Horizons summer camp has promised to transform her life, and there’s nothing she wants more than to start over.
But sometimes love has its own path…
Such a good book!!
I’m so glad that I ended up preordering this. I was convinced that it was going to be amazing even though I don’t normally love contemporary…and it so was! It didn’t quitehit that 5-star mark, but I still really enjoyed reading this book and thought it was a great LGBT read that I’d highly recommend to any fans of contemporary YA LGBT fiction.
I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect when I opened it. I’ve heard of gay-to-straight transition camps before, but didn’t really know anything about them due to the fact that, honestly, I’d much rather ignore the fact that places like New Horizons actually exist in the world. So, because I don’t know much about them, I can’t say for sure that the camp in The Summer I Wasn’t Me was a good portrayal of one, but it certainly seemed to be like what I would imagine a place like that would be like. And it was significantly creepy! Some parts of this book were actually really hard to read because of all the anti-gay sentiments that were flying around. Even though you know that the author is pro-gay and is trying to send that message across with this book, reading about all of the hatred is difficult to suffer through. But not in a way that made the book bad…it was actually really well done. Because it’s true that there are actually people and places out there that are like this. And that’s that bad part — not this book.
I thought it was interesting to get to listen to all of the personal experiences of the different campers at New Horizons. Each of the side characters had a different reason for coming to the camp and different outlooks on what transitioning from gay to straight would mean for them. It was a really good panorama of all types of LGBT kids and the different backgrounds, families, and communities that they come from. I thought it was also interesting that the author, or at least the main character Lexi, didn’t totally hate the fact that some people do want to transition from being gay to being straight. Even though that’s not a view that I personally have, I think Lexi did a good job staying pretty neutral on the subject. Like, she wasn’t sure if it was something that was really for her, but she didn’t look down on the other kids who actually wanted to change, or the counsellors there who had already gone through the transition. I liked that, instead of just transferring the hate around from gay hatred to gay-to-straight hatred, Lexi was actually a really tolerant and nonjudgmental person…somebody who would be a really good role model for LGBT teenagers (and just teenagers in general!).
I also really enjoyed the romance aspect of this book. While it wasn’t necessarily at the forefront of the story, it was definitely an important part of the book and played a big role in how Lexi came to adjust to life at New Horizons and her opinions on gay-to-straight transformations. And I adored Carolyn’s character. She was so sweet and was a really unique character in that her family and her reasons for being at New Horizons are different from what you might expect and were really intriguing. I think that, even though her reasons for being there might come across as a little bit weird once they’re revealed, she actually probably portrays a huge part of the teen LGBT community that isn’t talked about as much.
Ultimately, I totally fell in love with this book. It was interesting, well written, fast-paced and totally different from any other LGBT book I’ve ever read. It was a great blend of the topics of family, friends, individuality, LGBT, religion, politics, morality, etc., and covered a lot of different aspects of the LGBT lifestyle and had a bunch of different types of characters — somebody for every reader to relate to. The Summer I Wasn’t Me ended up becoming of my favorite contemporary YA books of all time!