Review: The Summer List by Amy Mason Doan (@KristinKC1)
Amy Mason Doan
Laura and Casey were once inseparable: as they floated on their backs in the sunlit lake, as they dreamed about the future under starry skies, and as they teamed up for the wild scavenger hunts in their small California lakeside town. Until one summer night, when a shocking betrayal sent Laura running through the pines, down the dock, and into a new life, leaving Casey and a first love in her wake.
But the past is impossible to escape, and now, after seventeen years away, Laura is pulled home and into a reunion with Casey she can’t resist—one last scavenger hunt. With a twist: this time, the list of clues leads to the settings of their most cherished summer memories. From glistening Jade Cove to the vintage skating rink, each step they take becomes a bittersweet reminder of the friendship they once shared. But just as the game brings Laura and Casey back together, the clues unravel a stunning secret that threatens to tear them apart…
Mesmerizing and unforgettable, Amy Mason Doan’s The Summer List is about losing and recapturing the person who understands you best—and the unbreakable bonds of girlhood.
“The Summer List is a sparkling debut novel filled with nostalgia that will make you long for your childhood friends and carefree summer days.” —PopSugar
*3.5 Stars* – rounded up because the first half of this book was everything!
A touching story of friendship…
THE SUMMER LIST had me divided. The first half was a solid five-star read, one I could not put down. The setting alone was enough to make me want to dive inside these pages and swim across the sunlit lake beside these lovable characters.
This author brought to life the undeniable purity and intoxicating fervor of young friends. Of new friends. The friendship of Laura and Casey was like a love story in and of itself: the wanting the be liked, wondering what the other is thinking, spending every waking moment together … their companionship even fell into a forbidden sort-of territory with one set of parents’ disproval of the other’s.
Their bond felt invaluable, and larger than life—like it was the only thing that mattered on earth, as childhood friendships tend to become. The plot wasn’t delivered in a tell-me manner, but revealed itself in detail through vivid imagery and bewitching descriptions, and I was fully entranced.
The story is set largely in the past, with glimpses of present-time conditions, offering little insight into this mysterious rift between the girls. As the past eventually catches up to the present, we learn very slowly what it was that severed their bond—a reveal that, for me, didn’t ultimately fulfill its hype.
The enchanting tone I’d come to love faded away within the second half of this story, and the writing began to feel like writing, and the plot began to drag. I wanted back the initial appeal, and I grew conflicted by my sudden urge to skim though a read I’d been so eager to savor.
It was an unfortunate shift, but I can’t say the story was completely lost. It was able to claim me once again, here and there, with its pockets of charm and bouts of sweetness. The ending was a lovely wrap-up, even if I was no longer entirely invested.
I do think many will readers will enjoy this emotional portrayal of friendship and love that spans decades and very much warms the heart.