Riley Clifton has always been attached to The Six, a group of six high school boys who have been best friends, partners in innocent teenage crime, and the subject of many a teen fantasy. But as trusted and platonic as it all seems, not all of The Six look at Riley like just one of the guys.
Riley is a bit on the insecure side, spending all her time with these boys that she's placed on something of a pedestal and questioning her own attractiveness when every girl in school seems to want one of The Six. But they're her best friends, and for all her second-guessing, that friendship means more to her than anything — except maybe Jake. He's the one who has her heart fluttering, even as she tries to stick to the just friends thing.
Their story begins at the end, after years in school together and just after their high school graduation, that sliver of time between adolescence and the rest of their lives, when everything begins to change. The Six will soon be heading in different directions, working toward different futures, while Riley's future remains up in the air. Rather than revel in that melancholy, they're going to spend one last weekend together raising hell at the cabin.
As it turns out, though, the boys have been keeping a secret from her for years, one that has changed and grown and faded over time, and now that they're all headed in different directions, they're ready to come clean. This is where the story went completely unrealistic and teenage-ideal for me, and while it was cute, it felt a bit forced. Turns out that they've all been crushing on Riley since forever, but they made a pact not to act on those feelings and ruin their group. Fortunately, those crushes have come and gone over time, and they're not all secretly dying to win her over now, so while it comes as a crazy surprise to her, it also means she's free to choose Jake, the one who gives her butterflies in the best way.
Riley's a bit on the dramatic side, but then again she is a teenage girl whose adulthood is beginning and uncertain, and I'm not sure I've ever known a girl her age who hasn't been a frequent traveler on the drama train. She also wasn't completely alone in her girlhood, having female friends in addition to The Six who made her character a bit more normal and believable. Their last weekend seemed to be a mix of joy and sadness, though, the culmination of years of friendship and crushes that was coming to a close too soon as they all set off into the world. There was just enough story to become invested and curious before it all ended on a giant cliffhanger, though, so in the end, I've got some mixed feelings about it.
A part of me wants to grab the second book and find out what happens next, but at the same time, I feel like everyone was introduced to me, only to leave too soon. It's the perfect set-up for a series that focuses on each boy and relationship, but The Summer I Fell didn't really give me enough of any of them to feel like I absolutely have to continue. It doesn't help that Riley's story was left so unfinished, and the next book isn't focused on her at all, so it's not like that cliffhanger would be resolved. The Summer I Fell is a cute, quick, coming-of-age story about six best friends and the girl who's always been an addition to their group, and while some of the drama is annoyingly teen, it's also very fitting. I'll probably wait to see how the reviews come in for the rest of the series, though, before I commit to more.