The Summer of #BlumeAlong: A Review of Summer Sisters, by Judy BlumeJuly 17, 2015
Today, the #BlumeAlong draws to a close.
Through June and July, I got to dive back into the world of boys, bras and periods with Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret (and thank all my lucky stars that I'm done with puberty for good) as well as navigate the twists and turns of long-term female friendship in Summer Sisters. Thanks again to Kerry of Entomology of a Bookworm for never having read any Blume and deciding to host this fun event to rectify that!
I was especially excited for the second leg of the read-along because I'd never before read Summer Sisters. I was even fairly certain I'd never dipped into it for the racier scenes à la my clandestine jaunts into Forever and Wifey.
Summer Sisters is the saga of Victoria (Vix) Leonard, whose world is turned upside down when the beautiful whirlwind Caitlin Somers asks her to spend the summer with her at her dad's house on Martha's Vineyard. With little parental supervision and no financial limits (at least, not on Caitlin's end), Vix and Caitlin are free to explore the island—and its more attractive male inhabitants—as they please, providing the backdrop for their summers from middle school through college and beyond. This is Blume at her best: strong, complicated female friendships; a healthy dose of puberty and sexual self-discovery; and plentiful family dysfunction.
As hinted at above, issues of class permeate the story. Caitlin fails to understand why Vix wants to get a job on the island in high school. Vix's mother, Tawny, resents the fact that her daughter spends summers on the Vineyard. This anger only grows when Caitlin's parents offer to help her earn a scholarship to a private school:
"Later, while she was finishing her math homework, Lanie said, 'You know why she hates you?' Vix looked up from her notebook. 'It's because you get to escape,' Lanie said, trying to braid Malibu Barbie's hair. 'We all hate you for that.' Lanie spoke without emotion, and suddenly Vix understood everything. She got to escape and they didn't." — pg. 62, Summer Sisters
I found myself identifying strongly with both Vix and Caitlin, different as they are. My life was the picture of Caitlin's when I was younger: laissez-faire parents, desperately hungry for male attention, and constantly on the hunt for elusive personal fulfillment. But then there's Vix: reserved, responsible, and, as Caitlin sneers, "an emotional iceberg." I too had to put my feelings on the back-burner as a child, and I continue to struggle to acknowledge and express them in productive ways with my family and friends. In fact, it amazes me that Vix was capable of the level of closeness she had with Caitlin; I've always shied away from female intimacy (often to my detriment, I think), and even my very best middle/high school friend and I kept each other at arm's length. I hope to continue to grow and become more comfortable with being vulnerable in relationships, but perhaps not in one like Caitlin and Vix's. No spoilers!
I've managed to write a bunch of words without saying a whole lot about this book, but I think it's one that's best experienced firsthand. If you're already a fan of Blume, or if anything I've written above appeals to you, definitely check this one out!
Did you take part in the #BlumeAlong? Have you read Summer Sisters? Let's chat!