Saturday, May 12, 2012

Review: The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland

Elizabeth Margaret, or simply called Em, is a girl with passion in cooking.
However, the option of telling her uptight and prestigious family that she wants to pursue career in cooking is off-limit. Her family would be furious, and Em doesn't want to hurt her family's feeling. Being a chef is not even possible in her wildest imagination.

This is Em's last summer holiday before she goes to Harvard and follows her father’s path as a lawyer, when a letter from her aunt arrives. Em doesn’t even know that she has an aunt until she receives the letter. She is invited by her aunt Matilda to spend her summer in Outer Banks. The more Em thinks about it, the more she wants to accept this invitation. This is her only chance of freedom. The moment when finally, her life begins.

The Summer My Life Began could be a much better book with more polishing. I judged most books I read by the first chapter. The first chapter plays a lot in my judgment whether to keep reading or shuffle the book to somewhere in my To-Be-Read pile. Sadly, this book falls on the latter. When I finished reading the first chapter, I got the impression that most part of this book will be about telling, not showing. I felt like I was overloaded with too much information regarding Em’s feeling. I would like to have more sides of Em’s shown in the following chapters, not thrown out in the first chapter. It made me think that I’ve known every bits and pieces about her already.

Fortunately, the writing is much improved throughout the story. There are also enough puzzles and magnetism of beautiful setting of an island out in the Atlantic Ocean that made me eager to read what happens next. Em and Cade’s relationship is also very adorable. There are some surprises that I didn’t see coming and they add to positive points of this book. I think The Summer My Life Began will appeal to fans of younger YA. If I were younger, I know that I would fall in love more with this story and the message behind this book.

We drove under the beautiful archway of bright red flowers growing on thick green vines that I had seen on the Pepper House’s website. We circled around a stone fountain with four carved goats spouting water from their mouths. Cade stopped the van in front of a Mediterranean-style whitewashed stone house covered in more beautiful red flowers.

He turned the key and silence filled the cab.

“Here we are,” he said, flinging open his door and getting out of the van.

I sat for a moment and smiled. Here I am.

I rate this book:
Three cups of tea. Like it, but doesn’t give me much impression. Recommended to read in spare time.


  1. I love the premise of this book, although I have read some mixed reviews. I think I'll definitely check it out though, it sounds like a nice summer read!

  2. You're probably right about THE SUMMER MY LIFE BEGAN being better for a younger audience. I had some problems with connecting to Em (and actually most of the story) as well even though the premise of this novel sounds really awesome. Great review!

    Fictional Distraction

  3. This book has been getting a lot of mixed reviews so I'm not sure if it will be for me. I'm glad to hear you liked some parts of this book even though it didn't start of all too well. Info-dumping is one of my pet hates when it comes to writing and that aspect of this book probably wouldn't sit well with me. Thanks for the informative review, Hilda! :)

  4. The Summer My Life Began sounded really good, but it wasn't for me, either. I also think it's better for younger readers! I also found their love adorable. I think what bugged me the most was that the characters didn't have much depth, otherwise it was a nice story.

  5. Aww, the tell-not-show brigade? That's the worst! This book seems to be drawing so many mixed reviews across the blogosphere so I've been really wary about picking it up. But even though you had some issues with it, I'm really happy to hear that it was an sweet read for you! The romance seems ADORABLE (one of my favourite kinds!) and I always love beautiful beach settings since I love beautiful beaches.

    Beautiful, awesome, and PERFECT review as always, Hilda! This book may not be perfect but it sounds like the perfect light beach read, so it's definitely on the back of my mind for that! :) <3

  6. That's such a shame, Hilda! I've heard a lot of people saying similar things in their reviews too, though. It seems like it was a let down for many people. I have a copy and hope to get to it sometime this month but I will certainly be wary going into it!

    Lovely review. :D

  7. I am super critical of books but for some reason telling not showing isn't one thing that annoys me that much. I think I'm just a lazy reader! This might be a good book to ward off my YA blues. Something light where no one gets killed. I hope there's a lot of food talk in this one!

  8. Beautiful review Hilda, I'm so glad you enjoyed it a lot more than I did, the gorgeous setting and the unexpected surprises definitely made up for the weaker beginning of the book! :)

  9. Lovely review, Hilda! This is probably one of the more positive ones I've seen and I would really like to read this book!


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