Published by Sourcebooks Fire on June 5, 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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One summer will challenge everything the Garrett sisters thought they knew about themselves—and each other.
Kat lands the lead in the community theater’s summer play, but the drama spills offstage when her ex and his new girlfriend are cast too. Can she get revenge by staging a new romance of her own?
Bea and her boyfriend are heading off to college together in the fall, just like they planned when they started dating. But Bea isn’t sure she wants the same things as when she was thirteen…
Vi has a crush on the girl next door. It makes her happy and nervous, but Cece has a boyfriend…so it’s not like her feelings could ever be reciprocated, right?
As the oldest, Des shoulders a lot of responsibility for her family and their independent bookstore. Except it’s hard to dream big when she’s so busy taking care of everyone else.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Last Summer of the Garrett Girls is a lovely, summery contemporary that follows a family of four sisters navigating their last summer together in their small, coastal town. Since the book features four perspectives, it feels like you’re reading four companion novels that involve the same setting and same characters, which made for a fun reading experience.
Each of the Garrett sisters brought a different vibe to this story. There’s Des, the oldest, who struggles with feeling inadequate and boring because she decided to stay in her small hometown and work in her family’s bookshop after graduation, rather than attend college. Then, there’s Bea, who realizes that the plan she made years ago– attend Georgetown with her boyfriend– now that it’s within reach, is no longer what she wants. Kat, the second-youngest sister, hatches a plan to get back at her ex-boyfriend through the community theater production they’re both involved in this summer. And finally, we have Vi, the youngest (my precious child), who harbors a not-so-secret crush on the cute girl who works next door– the only problem is, she doesn’t know whether said cute girl actually likes girls.
I related to each sister in different ways. I empathized a lot with Des, as she’s the closest to my age; Bea reminded me of my high school self; Kat shared my love of the arts; and Vi is dealing with one of the quintessential #QueerGirlProblems. That being said, I definitely enjoyed reading some stories more than others. I think Kat’s perspective was my favorite to read from, because I adored the romance she develops with one of her castmates (who, I should mention, is bisexual and Korean-American! more bi boy love interests, please!). It involves the fake dating trope, a personal fave of mine, so obviously I was hooked from the beginning. Plus, Kat works in a cat cafe, which I loved reading about. I also loved Vi’s storyline, because her romance was really, really sweet. Plus, she’s such a cinnamon roll. I just wanna protect her. Like I said, I related to Des quite a lot, but she made some pretty poor decisions that were kinda frustrating as a reader. Bea’s storyline was by far my least favorite, because 1.) I feel like, out of all the main characters, she had the least-developed personality, and 2.) it involved cheating.
The setting of The Summer of the Garrett Girls added so much charm and personality to this book! It takes place in a tiny riverside town in Maryland. The small-town vibes were strong, and they added lots of atmosphere to the story. The Garrett family owns an independent bookstore, and all the sisters work there periodically. I of course enjoyed all the scenes that took place in the book shop! I think book lovers will all appreciate the myriad literary references in Garrett Girls: first off, all the sisters are named after Shakespeare characters (Desdemona, Beatrice, Katharina, and Viola). Plus, all of the sisters love to read, and titles from across multiple genres are frequently name-dropped. I especially appreciated the A+ queer girl YA recs. Jessica Spotswood did an excellent job of giving this town unique personality while keeping a cozy feel that anyone who grew up in small-town America will find familiar.
I’ve heard this book pitched as Gilmore Girls meets Sarah Dessen, and I think that’s a great comp. The Last Summer of the Garrett Girls tackles some heavy issues, but it still reads easily and makes for a perfect summery contemporary. I’d highly recommend any contemporary lover to pick this one up!
Have you read, or do you plan to read, The Last Summer of the Garrett Girls? What are your favorite contemporaries set in small towns?