I find books to read lots of ways--but in this case I first noticed this debut novel because I follow the author, Casie Bazay, on Twitter. The cover of Not Our Summer is beautiful and I decided to give the book a try just because she was an awesome connection and I love YA books.
What a great decision that turned out to be! Not Our Summer is a book about the way our parents' mistakes follow us, the ways in which their biases impact us and what it takes to decide to stand on your own in light of that. It's a book about friendship, forgiveness, family and the ways that sisters can destroy each other, and just maybe redeem each other.
I don't remember ever reading a book before that deals in such a real way with the kind of family history that can lead a set of siblings to never speak to each other again, to hate each other so much that they raise their children to hate each other. This happens more often in real families than anyone ever speaks about, I've seen it in my own extended family, and the author captures the dynamic in a perfect and humanizing way.
The basic premise of the book is that two girls must complete their grandfather's bucket list by going on trips he planned for them before his death. The trips force them to get to know each other and, in some ways, themselves. If they don't take the trips, they and their mothers lose their inheritance. But if they do they will have to overcome a lifetime of hatred and their own very different backgrounds and personalities.
It's artfully done and the ending hits you right in the heart. It's satisfying and beautiful. I loved this story and I highly recommend you check it out.