Book Review: The Summer of Impossibilities

Rachael Allen

Rating: 2 out of 5.

published: 12th May 2020
spoilers? not really


Skyler, Ellie, Scarlett and Amelia Grace are forced to spend the summer at the lake house where their moms became best friends.

One can’t wait. One would rather gnaw off her own arm than hang out with a bunch of strangers just so their moms can drink too much wine and sing Journey two o’clock in the morning. Two are sisters. Three are currently feuding with their mothers.

One almost sets her crush on fire with a flaming marshmallow. Two steal the boat for a midnight joyride that goes horribly, awkwardly wrong. All of them are hiding something.

One falls in love with a boy she thought she despised. Two fall in love with each other. None of them are the same at the end of the summer.

Galley provided by publisher

CWs: past self harm

Sometimes you finish a book and you’re sort of left with a vague annoyance that this is what you spent a portion of your life on. That would be me and this book. It’s not a bad book by any stretch of the imagination. It’s just not a me book.

The Summer of Impossibilities follows four girls, whose mothers take them to a lake house for the summer, after one’s husband cheats on her. The girls haven’t seen each other since they were five, and they don’t immediately get along.

Here, I have to admit, the blurb is somewhat misleading. None of the events that it says happens are much more than blips. I mean, “a boy she despises”, she dislikes him slightly on their first meeting and then decides she does like him. But that’s sort of beside the point.

I think what disappointed me most about this book was that I came into it expecting an f/f romance. But that romance barely registers – there is scarcely any development (although this is also true of the straight romances), and it doesn’t happen until very late on. Not only that, the lesbian character seems to all but reduced to her crush on her friend. Throughout every bit of her POV (of which there are also fewer than any of the other characters), there’s very little besides an almost exclusive focus on Scarlett (the crush). It’s either that or, on the off chance it’s not, the homophobia of her church. But by reducing Amelia Grace to her crush, she comes off as a lot less fleshed out than any of the other characters. I could tell you about the hopes, dreams, flaws, and so on of the others. I could not tell you the same of Amelia Grace. And also, I am so tired of reading the whole “lesbian hated by her church community” storyline. It featured a little less strongly here than I feared it might, to be fair, but it was still prominent. Are lesbians not allowed to have wholly supportive parents or something? (Also, an aside: the word lesbian ain’t gonna give you cooties or whatever. You can use it to describe a woman who exclusively likes women. That is its meaning.)

Not to mention her love interest is horrible. Like, I got she had traumas to work around and all, but that’s not an excuse to be awful to a character who has done nothing to you. So that put me off reading her POV a fair bit, and also put me off reading Amelia Grace’s POV, because of the aforementioned hyperfocus on the love interest.

And then, for all that it’s good the book doesn’t have a wholly straight white cast, some of that diversity does come across as a little forced, for want of a better word. Like how their being not-white or not-straight is emphasised by them making a “white people” or “straight people” comment? It doesn’t happen in this book, but it felt like that sort of vibe. At first, I grant, because once the author had thus established that these characters were not-white or not-straight, that definitely disappeared. (Another aside: there’s a point at the start where the Indian American Muslim characters stop at a petrol station in the South and make some comment about being stared at as if they’ve never seen brown people before. I couldn’t help but think of multiple tweets I’ve seen recently that have been like, the North is as bigoted as the South, if not more. But anyway.)

But while I was disappointed, there were still some cute parts (Skyler and Bennett, despite how fast their relationship happened, Ellie and Andres, even though theirs happened even faster). It’s just that couldn’t make up for everything else.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Summer of Impossibilities

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