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The Summer I Wasn't Me

Review

The Summer I Wasn't Me

When Lexi’s beloved dad died, her world was torn apart. Now she just has her mom, who isn’t doing very well emotionally. Lexi cares deeply about the well-being of her mother, and would never want to give her any more cause for sadness. Unfortunately, when Lexi’s mother finds out that her daughter likes girls, she plunges into even deeper distress than before.
 
The Hamilton family lives in a small town in South Carolina where everyone goes to church and thinks very conservatively. Being gay is not only unacceptable, but unheard of. For this reason, Lexi is sent to a de-gayifying camp called New Horizons. She agrees to go mainly because after hearing about the camp, her mom finally seemed happy again. Lexi reasons that if she could stop being gay, her mother could find a new reason to live and enjoy life.
Upon arriving at New Horizons, Lexi is greeted with camp counselors who insist upon calling her “Alexis,” disgustingly pink uniforms, and intense “exercises” in which she is forced to share her innermost thoughts and feelings with a group of complete strangers. At one point, she even has to publicly declare that her “gayness” stemmed from the fact that her parents didn’t act in a manner appropriate for their gender roles (something she totally disagrees with.)
 
I’d recommend THE SUMMER I WASN’T ME to any teen who is particularly interested in the issue of gay rights and acceptance, but I’d also suggest the book to anyone who enjoys a typical love story.
 
Although Lexi sincerely hopes that the camp will help her, there is one issue with her plan to kiss her unwanted sexuality good-bye. On the first day, Lexi meets Carolyn, who is the “most beautiful girl” she’s ever seen. As much as she wants to stop being gay, she’s also really drawn to Carolyn.
 
THE SUMMER I WASN’T ME was intriguing since it dealt with homosexuality, which is an issue that is very prominent in our society.  In the region of Massachusetts where I live, the attitude towards people who are homosexual is fairly liberal, so to read that there are still places in this country where being gay is utterly unaccepted was rather shocking for me. However, to limit the novel by saying it merely dealt with homosexuality would be unfair because the book was about more than just being gay. Ultimately, it was about love, particularly improbable love that finds a way to thrive despite the many obstacles it faces.
 
I’d recommend THE SUMMER I WASN’T ME to any teen who is particularly interested in the issue of gay rights and acceptance, but I’d also suggest the book to anyone who enjoys a typical love story (especially one with a fresh, modern twist to it).

Reviewed by Charlotte L. on April 8, 2014

The Summer I Wasn't Me
by Jessica Verdi

  • Publication Date: April 1, 2014
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
  • ISBN-10: 1402277881
  • ISBN-13: 9781402277887