*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Title: When I Was Summer
Author: J.B. Howard
Publication Date: April 30, 2019
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Sixteen-year-old Nora Wakelin has always felt like an outsider in her own family. Her parents and older sister love her, but they don’t understand anything about her: not her passion for music, not her all-encompassing crush on her bandmate Daniel (who is very much unavailable), not her recklessness and impulsiveness. Nora has always imagined that her biological mother might somehow provide the answer as to why she feels like such an outsider. Through internet stalking and leaps of logic, Nora identifies three women living elsewhere in California who seem like they could be her mother. So she sets out to track them each down, one by one, under the pretense of a statewide tour with her rock band, Blue Miles. Three cities, three gigs, three possible birth mothers—it sounds so easy.
This YA story tells of Nora Wakelin: musician, bandmate, sister, friend, and adopted. Nora has always loved her parents and she’s always known her home to be a place of inclusion and support. However, she’s always felt like she doesn’t quite fit in. She’s so different from her parents and her sister. She’s searching for meaning in her life. This wonderful coming of age story follows Nora as she embarks on her own path of self-discovery to learn about who she is, where she comes from, and who she wants to be.
What I loved about this story is that the characters all really read the age that they were and were truly going through that awkward phase of trying to understand who they are. This isn’t just Nora’s story. Her friends are also struggling with very difficult and very real issues. Nora, like any person, often gets so caught up in her own narrative that she’s blind to what others are facing, but her heart is in the right place and her intention are never anything but good. This book shows of the highs and pitfalls of friendship, especially high school friendship. It also shows the true and varied meaning of family. It comes in many shapes and forms, but there are so many faces to family. Nora takes the reader on a journey to discover that with those that one loves, one always belongs.
This story had an interesting ending. It took a few twists and turns along the road, but it ended on a vibrant and honest note. Overall, it’s a story of true becoming and belonging, one that I would recommend to YA readers. It’s perfect for the upcoming summer.