The Summer I Found You by Jolene Perry
Published: March 1, 2014 by Albert Whitman Teen
Source: From the publisher via netgalley
All they have in common is that they're less than perfect. And all they're looking for is the perfect distraction.
Kate's dream boyfriend has just broken up with her and she's still reeling from her diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. Aidan planned on being a lifer in the army and went to Afghanistan straight out of high school. Now he's a disabled young veteran struggling to embrace his new life. When Kate and Aidan find each other neither one wants to get attached. But could they be right for each other after all? [goodreads]
At first glance, the cover and title of this book is exactly what catches my eye. The mention of summer and a girl on a beach are two elements I definitely gravitate toward in YA contemps. However, as other readers have mentioned, neither of these are in any way a depiction of what the novel is about. Since the story takes place during the spring, when the main character is still in school, there is an obvious disconnect between the book's title and what the story is about. I had a very hard time looking past this. I guess if someone is able to ignore the title, then perhaps this element won't bother them. But for me, it did.
Kate is a teenage girl who has recently been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. In the last year she's struggled with keeping her sugar levels steady, while also keeping track of her diet so that her body doesn't go into shock. Immediately we learn that this is something Kate does not want to deal with and she chooses to react to her new situation as if it's not a big deal and ignores her parent's concerns, as well as her best friend's concerns. I did not find this behavior abnormal for a teenager. I understood that it must be difficult to accept such a harsh reality of always keeping a watchful eye on your health during a time when college acceptance letters and what to wear to the prom are typically what should be weighing heavy on her mind.
Aidan has just been medically discharged from the Army due to losing his right arm while in combat in Afghanistan. Immediately my heart went out to this young veteran who must find a new path in life, while enduring the obstacles his handicap has now placed before him. He has no idea what he wants to do, and he's not ready to face the demons he carries around inside his head. Both Kate and Aidan meet one another during a time of confusion. They are unsettled with the hand life has dealt them, but while Aidan is attempting to make the best of what his new life has offered him, Kate chooses to ignore her's and instead follows a path of potential destruction to her own health.
I wanted to like this book, but I had a very hard time accepting Kate's character. Her immaturity in certain situations outshine the moments we are to accept as her faults. I understand that she was trying to avoid the reality of what her life had now become, but it bothered me how she disregarded her family's concerns, as well as her best friend's, yet the moment Aidan spoke up and the threat of losing him became apparent, that is when she chose to take her health seriously. To me it felt like there was no validation through her eyes from the ones she loved.
I would not discourage someone from reading this particular book. The hiccups I had with it may not be a factor in someone else's reading experience. There was potential for this story, in my opinion, but unfortunately one too many flaws did not sit well with this reader. I do think, however, the author portrayed the life of a young veteran with the respect that character deserves. Aidan's growth was probably my favorite aspect of the story, and I was happy to see that he found his way again.