Title: The Summer I Wasn't Me
Author: Jessica Verdi
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pub. Date: April 1, 2014
Genre: Young Adult
Rec. Age Level: 14+
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When Lexi’s mom finds out she’s gay, Lexi worries it will be the final straw, shattering what’s left of her family. Her mother has taken her father’s death hard, leaving Lexi to hold things together. Lexi’s mother’s revelation regarding her daughter’s sexual orientation wakes her from her grief-induced fog, giving her a purpose: to save her daughter. When she suggests Lexi attend a religious summer camp to convert her to heterosexuality, Lexi agrees to attend, hoping that it will salvage their relationship.
At first things at the camp seem tame – ridiculous and ineffective, but tame nonetheless. Lexi and her fellow campers settle into camp, but soon realize that those who don’t conform are punished, the conversion activities becoming violent and dangerous. The pressure is on and Lexi must decide who she wants to be, how she wants to live, and how far she’ll go for those she loves.
I was really surprised by how dark this novel got, but, at the same time, when we’re dealing with converting one’s sexuality, what else can you really expect? As a strong believer in the idea that individuals can love any way they please – same sex or otherwise – THE SUMMER I WASN’T ME was a difficult read. It makes me incredibly sad that anyone would feel that their sexuality is wrong and that they should change it, at any cost. For that reason, I think this sophomore novel from Jessica Verdi is extremely important. Readers should feel shocked and upset about the events in this novel. I’m just hoping that readers feel so much that they take a stand and support GLBT individuals.
My only complaint about this novel is that it seemed to end rather abruptly after some pretty intense events took place. Everything was wrapped up a bit too neatly, undermining the believability slightly. Still, in ways, it was nice to have that safe, happy ending after the heaviness earlier in the novel. I think most readers won’t be bothered by the ending.
Don't miss my interview with the author here!