Best friends Tess, Ellie, and Adam have their summer all planned out — until Adam gets himself sent off to his grandmother’s in the city as punishment for his drunken party antics, leaving Tess and Ellie to navigate their summer alone. That is, until the Onslow Boys become a part of their plans.
Tess has been swooning over Toby since she hit puberty, but at five years younger than him, she’s never even been on Toby’s radar. The fact that he’s speaking to her now, even joking around with her and giving her rides is something of a miracle, seeing as how he’s been dating the beautiful Angela for the last year. Summer was supposed to be riding bikes, sleeping in, and laying out in the sun. But now it’s riding in cars, a day on the lake with rowdy, older boys, and falling hard for the guy she never thought she could have.
Toby is refreshingly realistic, not the heart-on-his-sleeve twenty-something guy found in most romances. He’s not overly talkative, not exactly clear and forthcoming about his intentions, and not idealized — except in Tess’s mind, of course. It’s that bit of character development that makes this book stand out among others, that makes Tess’s reactions to him so true to life and makes him the picture-perfect and utterly realistic summer boy.
And Tess… She’s such a normal teenager, over-analyzing every smile, every look, every word her dream boy speaks. Her fear of making a fool of herself, her self-consciousness about her young age around the older Onslow Boys… If you’ve forgotten what it’s like to be a teenage girl, a peek into Tess’s mind is just the thing.
If ever there was a book that perfectly captured that one summer, the one where first kisses and first loves and first heartbreaks played out on lazy nights, this is it. Despite its being set in a country I’ll never see, the story is universal, and Tess is the girl we all once were.
C.J. Duggan has an incredible way of turning the confusing, exciting, wonderful existence of the teenage girl into words, and I was hooked within the first few paragraphs. It’s a journey back in time to one lazy, amazing, perfect summer of firsts. I could go on and on and on about this book, but there’s really no way to explain it. Just read it, and you’ll know exactly what I mean.