Angie Morrow has just graduated from high school and is spending the summer home with her family before going off to college. She has never dated and don’t see all the fuss over boys, like the other girls in town do. But then she meets Jack and, despite what she herself has previously thought about love, finds something in him that isn’t just a spark or a feeling. It’s a connection. And the seventeenth summer turns into a summer of romance and pretty moments with the boy she cares for so much. But the summer must end, like all summers do, and when it does, Angie will no longer be left in town. She and Jack must eventually decide if what has happened between them is just a thing over the summer, or something more.
It seemed like a perfect book to read during summer, something light and sweet that just fits with the warm weather and the sun and the overall summery feeling. But I was oh so very wrong about that. My expectations for Seventeenth summer was quite simple, actually. I thought it would be a book about a boy and a girl falling in love and spending the summer together doing cute, romantic things and then either deciding to try and keep the spark alive while Angie was away at school or just break up peacefully, happy for the time they’ve gotten together. Sounds nice, right? A perfect summer book. But no. I was so disappointed. Because even though the book did indeed tell the tale of Angie and Jack and that connection between them and even though there where cute moments, everything just felt… off. The book was a bit over three hundred pages and about little more than half of that did not have much to do with Angie and Jack’s relationship at all. It was about the weather and the flowers and the birds and the sun and rain, the smell and the taste and the sister or the other sister or the third sister or the sister’s boyfriend or the other sister’s boy and yes, you get my point. I understand that you need more to the story than just a guy and a girl and there is nothing wrong with a little poetic talk about how nice the summer was. But it was not needed on every other page.
The whole book was built pretty strange, I haven’t really read anything like it before. Instead of chapters the book was divided into June, July and August. These three parts where, as you can imagine when I just said the book was three hundred pages, pretty big. It was a lot of text and even though it was fun to read a book written a little differently, I wouldn’t have said no to chapters either. You could still have divided it into June, July and August, but made it nicer to read by cut the text up a little with chapters. A breather instead of a marathon of words and moments and happenings that didn’t feel important to the story. Despite only being three hundred pages long, the story felt ginormous.
Like I mentioned earlier, there was a lot of talking about the weather and the smells and the sunshine and rain and that’s nice, you need that in a book to make it feel real. To make it feel like the reader can touch what’s happening in the story. I would’ve complained if there weren’t anything like this in the story. And now I’m complaining because there was too much. Instead of chapters, the story had smaller parts to make it easier to read. A part could be a page or two or more, maybe five, six, seven or even ten. And more than once a whole part like this only contained a summary of how the garden looked. It was, frankly, boring, because it happened so many times. When I think back on Seventeenth summer, I don’t think about Jack or the love story, I think about the garden and the tomatoes and the grass and flowers and really, is this what one is supposed to think of after finishing a love story?
Another thing what bothered me a great deal was all the interactions between Angie and Jack. Because she waited and waited and waited to see him and when she finally did… there was usually no dialog or if there was, just a small one. They usually just sat together and thought by themselves and that’s nice to do with some people, but it’s boring to read about. Angie longed for Jack and he said he loved her and yet there was no spark between them. Nothing happened, during three hundred pages that made me say “Aw, that’s cute.” Nothing. They just… were. And that was no fun at all to read. A love story without no visible love. Just a ‘honey’ there and a little touch of the hand there and then came the tomatoes talk again or the talk about supper and ironing clothes. Reading Angie’s thoughts, you knew she liked Jack, but she never really told him or showed him by taking his hand or sitting closer to him. She just expected him to do it all and when he didn’t, she just seemed to not mind at all on the outside while on the inside being sad. More, and better, interactions between the two main characters would have made the book better. A moment or two at least, that had a real spark and not just being together and not saying anything after longing for him all day and then go home and lie in bed thinking about him and all the things she did not say. It was tiring to read.
You might have realized by now, if you’ve made it this far, that the story wasn’t set in the twenty-first century. Frankly, I’m not sure exactly when it was set but they didn’t seem to have either computers or mobiles, though they had cars so it must have been during the forties or fifties maybe. I’m not sure and that also bothered me. Though I’ll give Maureen Daley one thing and that was to at least have her characters speak the way they did during those years, with the fellows (there was a great deal of talking about fellows) and going steady and so on and so on. That was something, but it wasn’t enough by a long shot.
I kept reading because I thought it would get better. I smiled at some point and even laughed here and there, but there was also moments when I just threw the book away and thought about not picking it back up because it was so boring. I still did, to see if the end at least was good. It was not. The whole thing was bad from start to finish and it isn’t often I say things like this about books but really, it wasn’t good. At all.
It might just be so that I was a little too old for this story. Maybe it would be something more fitting a fifteen year old (I hardly think many seventeen year olds will go for it since, in my opinion, it is a bit childish and I can only speak for myself but I certainly did not think like this myself when I was seventeen and I don’t think many other does either) or girls younger than that. I say girls, because I honestly don’t think boys would find this story entertaining. But I might be wrong about that, too. In conclusion, though, I wouldn’t, and won’t, recommend this book to neither girls nor boys. For me it was just a waste of time. Tedious and boring and not even close to ‘romantic and enchanting’ as promised. I will not reread this book again.