The Last Summer of Us by Maggie Harcourt (proof) - Limpet, Steffan and Jared. Three best friends crammed into a clapped-out rust bucket of a car on a whirlwind road trip to forget their troubles and see out the end of the summer. But no matter how far they drive, they can’t escape the hidden secrets and slow-burning romance that could upset the balance of their friendship – perhaps forever. From Goodreads
I have sat here for a few minutes trying to work out how to start this review, because I'm simply still in awe at how beautiful The Last Summer of Us by Maggie Harcourt is, and I can't think of any better introduction than: Wow.
Limpet has just had to bury her mum. She is so full of grief and guilt, and her dad is having a hard time coping, so when her best friend Steffan suggests she go on road trip with him and their other friend Jared, she jumps at the chance to get away from it all for a while. What follows are several days of highs and lows, laughs and sadness, and the realisation of how important these two guys are to her. But things are changing. Not only has her mum died, but Steffan will soon be leaving. And underneath it all there are things no-one is saying, secrets that if brought out from hiding could destroy the one thing keeping Limpet going right now; their friendship.
The Last Summer of Us is such a beautiful novel. I don't want to say too much about it, because it's something you should discover for yourself and enjoy as you read. There are plenty of things happening throughout the road trip, but it's more of a reflective novel, of Limpet's internal struggles. It's about Limpet (a nickname the boys call her), if not working her way through her grief and the sadness over the way her whole life is now going to change, then accepting that this is what her life is now. That she no longer has a mother, that her best mate will be leaving, that the ground she's standing on isn't as solid as it once was, but that she can deal with that, eventually.
The relationship between the three friends is amazing. Theirs has got to be one of the best friendships I have read in YA. I loved both cheeky-chappy Steffan, and reserved, watchful Jared. They're all dealing with their own problems in this book, and it's just brilliant how they are all their for each other throughout. I loved them! I want to hang out with them all. It was so upsetting to know this awesome friendship would soon be changing, with Steffan leaving. And the sweet, sweet changes between Limpet and one of the guys as they start to see each other differently are just perfect. Sometimes, slow and careful can be really beautiful.
The writing is wonderful. There is such brilliant dialogue; the snappy banter between the three friends as they continually take the mick out of each other always had me smiling. But there are also some really beautiful moments where they actually talk, and wonderful phrasing when Limpet works things out for herself, when a key is turned and a lock clicks and she comes to realise things. And the descriptions! You can feel the heat of the hot summer sun, smell the musty dry grass, see the beautiful landscape. Harcourt really has a fantastic way of painting a brilliant picture for you with her writing, and it's just beautiful.
I had a personal reaction to this book, too. As I write this in February, I am dealing with my Nan's imminent death. I found Limpet's story and her getting herself to the point where she feels she'll be able to cope with the grief and the changes in her life really helpful and comforting. I know I'll soon be feeling like she does in certain parts of the novel, but she gets to the point where she knows there's a light at the end of the tunnel, even if she's not quite reached it yet, and it was such a relief to read that. Despite her story being very different from what I'm going through, this book came into my hands at exactly the right time, and I'm really grateful for this beautiful story.
The Last Summer of Us is a beautiful story of grief, friendship and hope, and one that has left me in complete awe. I will definitely read whatever Harcourt writes in future, and I want my own collection of snow globe moments.
Thank you to Usborne for the proof.
Published: 1st May 2015
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