This is a novel of 4 summers, describing Luke’s life from 14 to 16 years, just in the summers he spends at his parents beach house. Runyon shows great control and understanding of the teenage mind, and it is as if you are stepping literally between the summers.
I won’t waste your time with a synopsis, I’m sure you can find plenty of better ones on the internet. Basically, Luke spends every summer with his parents by a lake. Their neighbours come and go, but there are always some of the same feelings for Luke. Luke must change with his surroundings or be changed by them.
The thing that stood out most for me was not the growing attraction of Luke towards girls (which is there, and in some places kind of explicitly described), but how he seems to always hurt himself. It is striking that in the last summer of this book, he is able to save someone else, and this marks the turning point of his character. Finally he is growing up, and will get to be a respectable adult. 16 years seems a little late for this to me, when I think of my partner, but then I remember the maturity levels of my highschool years and I think that the males encapsulated in this book are remarkably well described.
The pace is fast, and this makes me feel that this is an ideal book for teens, particularly males. Runyon again produces a novel that makes you feel close to the protagonist. It’s amazing how he can get inside Luke’s mind. If I didn’t know better, I would have said he was writing each section from a diary of his own thoughts! The progression of the character is amazing.
While the novel is somewhat disappointing if you were looking for the depth of feeling that is present in Runyon’s semi-autobiography ‘The Burn Journals’, it’s perfectly acceptable as a novel in its own right. It is an easy read. It doesn’t really feel complete, and I feel myself longing to know more, but I know that that is unlikely to happen.
Runyon is a great author for boys who might be afraid of romancy type books. That’s not to say it isn’t suitable for teenage girls, but they are less likely to sympathize with Luke. Luke is about as typical teenage male as you can get. I have recommended it to mothers who have sons that hate fantasy. It’s angsty, but not too confronting.
Please note that on the image I have included there is a giant white blob. But that’s not there on the book’s cover in real life. It’s a nice simple cover, which I really thought suited the book, and it fits in with the rest of his books, which I will get to reviewing soon!