Release Date: 1st May 2015
Edition: UK paperback, purchased
A story of love, lies, grief, friendship and growing up.
A story of three best friends crammed into a clapped-out car full of regrets and secrets, on a journey that will change their lives for ever.
A story you’ll never forget.
Summery road trip novels are a rarity in UKYA so I gobbled up The Last Summer of Us.
Set in a small town in Wales, Limpet, Jared and Steffan are going on a badly needed road trip. Everything has changed and it keeps on changing and they’re clinging to each other for security. All three are pretty messed up and all at the fault of their parents – you know that Philip Larkin poem, This Be the Verse:
“They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had,
And add some extra, just for you.”
Sums up Limpet, Jared and Steffan’s experiences of childhood and being a teenager pretty well, really. After this summer, at the end of their trip to the Welsh coast, nothing will ever be the same again. All of the things bubbling beneath the surface gives the three friends a jarring dynamic that just works. Unexpected feelings are coming to light and tension is building and it’s wonderful.
But the thing I most loved about Maggie Harcourt’s debut is how real it feels. Limpet, Jared and Steffan bicker, disagree, get angry and ruthlessly tease each other and sometimes they even do genuinely hurtful things to each other, even if their intentions were good. They’re all beautifully flawed and that’s not hidden. I don’t remember the last time I read a book where the love interest was so unromanticised. Jared is completely human and though Limpet is developing feelings for him, she doesn’t put him on a pedestal; he’s still Jared, but she’s just viewing the things that make him him a little differently. It made their relationship so much more touching and poignant.
Beautifully sad, but ultimately hopeful, I thoroughly enjoyed The Last Summer of Us and I sincerely hope that this will be the first in a long line of UKYA like this.