Reviewer: Summer Sisters entertaining but not particularly challenging
Delacorte Press, $21.95
While Blume is successful in creating enough suspense and intrigue in the story line, she does this through the use of bargain-basement techniques lacking in creativity.
The novel starts out with Vix finding out that her best friend, Caitlin, is going to marry Vix's first love, Bru, then goes back in time to their childhood retracing the steps that lead to this defining moment.
The characters, for the most part, are cliches. Vix is the middle-class girl always wanting more out of life who then attaches herself to Caitlin, the pretty rich girl who has everything but a stable family. There are a few twists and turns and the characters are interesting enough to keep you going to the end, but there were some missed opportunities.
The girls spend a summer on Cape Cod (Caitlin asks Vix to spend the summer with her and her father), and readers are reminded all to much of Blume's wonderful ability to tap into the soul of a young girl coming of age. Throughout the first half of the book I found myself wondering if this was indeed an adult novel.
Vix grows into a lovely young woman, and receives apt attention from Caitlin's stepmother, Abbey. There are several points in the story where Vix betrays her character, leaving the reader wondering about her true motivation. For example, by the time she has graduated from college, Vix has come into her own as a strong, successful young professional yet she continues to let Caitlin control her actions.
Another disappointment in "Summer Sisters" is Blume's use of character summaries at the end of each chapter. At the end of a scene she recaps what happened from the character's perspective, filling in the gaps -- past events, interpretations of current events, etc. This technique is confusing in that it is written in third person, leaving the reader wondering who is really talking.
OK, so is there anything good about this novel? Well, yes. It's a light summer read that brings back fond memories of childhood and keeps the reader interested to the end. Expect to be somewhat entertained, albeit not particularly challenged.
Stephanie Bowen has worked for CNN for over seven years in Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Los Angeles. She is currently exploring the world of creative writing at UCLA and participates in a monthly book group.
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