Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner


Title: The Summer of Letting Go
Author: Gae Polisner
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Release Date: March 25, 2014
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
Just when everything seems to be going wrong, hope and love can appear in the most unexpected places.

Summer has begun, the beach beckons and Francesca Schnell is going nowhere. four years ago, Francesca's little brother, Simon, drowned, and Francesca is the one who should have been watching. now Francesca is about to turn sixteen, but guilt keeps her stuck in the past. Meanwhile, her best friend, Lisette, is moving on most recently with the boy Francesca wants but can't have. At loose ends, Francesca trails her father, who may be having an affair, to the local country club. There she meets four-year-old Frankie Sky, a little boy who bears an almost eerie resemblance to Simon, and Francesca begins to wonder if it's possible Frankie could be his reincarnation. Knowing Frankie leads Francesca to places she thought she'd never dar to go and it begins to seem possible to forgive herself, grow up, and even fall in love, whether or not she solves the riddle of Frankie Sky. 

I know I probably sound like a broken record at this point, but I love contemporary. And if it’s set in summer, than you can bet that I will be reading that book. For those reasons, Gae Polisner’s The Summer of Letting Go had been on my radar for quite some time and I was looking forward to reading it. It wasn’t what I thought it would be, and that might be for the best since I ended up loving this story.

Unlike everyone else, Francesca Schnell doesn’t look forward to summer. Despite living on the coast, she doesn’t enjoy spending her summers by the water and at the beach. She hasn’t ever since her little brother drowned four years ago. Ever since that day, Francesca’s family hasn’t been the same. But this summer, she meets Frankie Sky, a four-year-old little boy who bears an uncanny resemblance to Simon. Without realizing she’s doing it, Francesca starts to wonder if maybe Frankie Sky could be Simon’s reincarnation. But the more time she spends with this little boy, the more Francesca realizes that after all this time, she needs to move on and start living her life. And that doing so doesn’t mean forgetting Simon, it just means forgiving herself, growing up and even letting herself fall in love.

Summer contemporaries are just my favourite. I could keep going on all day about why I love them so much. They can be taken in so many different directions, and I feel like every time I pick one up, I never really know what I’ll get. I just know that I’ll love it. And that was the case with Gae Polisner’s The Summer of Letting Go. The book had been on my radar for quite some time and I was definitely looking forward to reading it. But in my mind, it was a completely different story than the one I ended up reading. I don’t actually know why, but for whatever reason the synopsis had not registered right with my brain. But that might be for the best, because I loved the story I ended up getting. It was more than the summer contemporary story I was expecting. It was also a story about grief, and growing up, and learning to keep going and be happy even when it feels like you have no right to be. I loved seeing Francesca come to accept everything that had happened in her past, and starting to see what her future could possibly hold. Because it felt like first and foremost, this book was about growth, specifically about Francesca’s growth. Even when she wasn’t always aware that she was doing a whole lot of growing up.

Francesca was an interesting character. At first I wasn’t really sure how I felt about her. She just seemed like someone who didn’t really know what she wanted and wasn’t really willing to try and find out. But then she met Frankie Sky and this change happened in her. Of course this change didn’t happen all at once, but from that point on, Francesca started doing some growing up. And I loved seeing that change happening. Francesca went from being someone who I didn’t really care for all that much to being someone who I could understand and even relate to at times. But if I’m being totally honest, Frankie Sky is the one who completely stole the show. Every time this little boy appeared, my heart just melted. He was just so brutally honest in his four-year-old way, while at the same time still being this totally adorable and sweet kid. All that to say that I loved Frankie Sky. He really should have his own book.

Gae Polisner’s The Summer of Letting Go was a fantastic read. I loved reading every single page of it and getting to know these characters that would eventually work their way into my heart. If you are looking for a summer contemporary that is not all about the romance, than The Summer of Letting Go is just the book for you.

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