The Summer I Found You by Jolene Perry (gift) - 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? From Goodreads.
The Summer I Found You by Jolene Perry is a book that has been on my wishlist for a little while after hearing Carrie Mesrobian talk about it with Christa Desir on their joint The Oral History Podcast. And I was lucky enough that my UK Book Blogger Secret Santa, Rebecca, gave it to me for Christmas! And it's just as wonderful as I thought it would be.
Kate has just been dumped by the most perfect boyfriend, and she's reeling not only from her heartbreak, but also with having to deal with her type 1 diabetes. She's known she's been diabetic for over a year now, but it still hasn't sunk in that this is something she'll live with for the rest of her life, or just how serious it is. With her heartbreak, and her nonchalance over her condition, she is sick of everyone on her back about looking after herself properly.
Aidan is 19, and already he's a veteran. While touring in Afghanistan, an explosion left him with only one arm, and no longer able to serve. It's been three months since the explosion, and he's still trying to come to terms not only with how to manoeuvre through daily life with just one arm, but also the fact that the future he planned for himself, a life in the military, went down in flames when the bomb went off. He's struggling to work out what to do with his life now the only future he wanted has been taken from him, and wracked with guilt over the death of his friend and sergeant, Pilot, who was killed when the bomb went off.
Both Kate and Aidan are dealing with facing difficult futures neither wanted, so when they meet, they think they've found the perfect distraction from their lives in each other. Kate doesn't ignore the fact that Aidan has no arm, but doesn't treat him any differently, unlike everyone else. Aidan doesn't know about Kate's diabetes, and so with him she gets a break from all the questions and concern. But when they develop feelings, their complicated lives get even more complicated.
The Summer I Found You is a really, really sweet story. It's such a cute romance, and I love the added element of obstacles to Kate and Aidan's lives, separate to each other. This is both the first book I have read to feature a protagonist with a chronic illness or disease, and the first book I've read featuring an amputee, so I found it really interesting to read about their individual stories. Kate is in complete denial about her diabetes. She refuses to see just how serious the disease is. Sure, sometimes her sugar levels get too high, but it's easily sorted. It's not that big of a deal. Except that it is; if she doesn't look after herself properly, her diabetes could cause her serious problems, like blindness, or can even kill her. But the idea that she'll have diabetes for the rest of her life - that she will continue to have to check her blood sugar levels, continue to inject herself with insulin, continue to count carbs for her whole life scares her, and so she's buried her head in the sand.
Aidan hates how slow he is at everything now he only has one arm. Even making himself a drink is a much longer process when he only has one arm. He can no longer drive his beloved car, that he saved up for, for so long when he was 16, because it has a gear stick. He can only drive a manual now. It's the small things that are constant reminders to him every day. And they're not just reminders that he's disabled, which is hard but bearable - at least he's not dead - but it's the reminders that he no longer has a future in the army, the life he so wanted, and that Pilot was blown to pieces, and possibly saved his life by giving him a bit of a push at the last crucial moment. Aidan is devastated by both loses, and he knows he has to move forward - decide what he's doing with his life, and visit Pilot's widow - but it's all just too hard to face. Therapy isn't helping, and his family is trying to ignore his stump and act like everything's normal, not bringing it up at all, and he just feels different by their avoidance of the subject. Aidan also has really bad nightmares, some memories of what happened, others crazy army-themed nightmares, which made me think he was suffering from PTSD, but that was never touched upon.
When Kate and Aidan meet through Kate's best friend and Aidan's cousin, Jen, they find in each other the perfect distraction. Literally seconds before meeting him at a fair, Jen announces that Aidan's lost an arm in the war, and so she is completely unprepared, and puts her foot in it by making inappropriate jokes about the fact that Aidan only has one arm. Everyone around her is completely shocked by her remarks, and she is so embarrassed, but Aidan is actually relieved. Finally someone who isn't pretending. And when hanging with Aidan, Kate gets a reprieve from all the grief from friends and family about her diabetes. The two are very quickly drawn to each other, not just because they find each other extremely attractive, but it gives them a break from all they're dealing with. Neither are really sure what the other wants from them, but soon they come to rely on each other for what they get fromt them. As Aidan has found someone to trust and talk to about what he's going through, Kate has found someone she doesn't have to talk to about it. But as their feelings grow and they get even closer, Kate knows her silence on her diabetes is likely to cause problems.
I absolutely loved The Summer I Found You, I just wish it was much longer, so I could be with these two as they figure their lives out a little more and their relationship grows! It's such a sweet, romantic story, and I cannot wait to read Perry's other novels. This book is brilliant.
Published: 1st March 2014
Publisher: Albert Whitman
Jolene Perry's Website