That Summer Feeling by Bridget Morrissey (book review)
GENRE: Adult Romance
LENGTH: 309 pages
Garland and her sister are headed to an adult summer camp. While there Garland and her cabinmate Stevie find themselves attracted to each other. Can Garland fall in love again after a bad divorce?
Garland is the type of character who believes in signs and, despite her parents’ tumultuous marriage, grew up still believing in true love. She’s bubbly and outgoing whereas her sister, Dara, is more reserved and a loner. Despite this, Garland and Dara are extremely close. I wish we’d gotten more of the sisters’ relationship, but every scene they did share was emotionally impactful.
Stevie is described by Garland as being sunshine. She’s outwardly confident and very competitive. Like Garland, she has a tight relationship with her siblings (she has three brothers). I loved the dynamic between Stevie and her brothers. There’s obvious sibling rivalry there, but at the same time they’re also protective and supportive of each other. Like with Garland and Dara, I found myself wishing for more scenes between Stevie and her brothers. I understand this is a romance book, but I’m always a big proponent for romances featuring family and friend relationships outside the romance because no one’s entire social/support circle should be their significant other.
In my opinion, Stevie is perfectly suited for Garland because she encourages her and brings out the best in her. That being said, I’d argue Garland fits the sunshine moniker better than Stevie.
The novel is told from Garland’s first person perspective. I really liked the concept/plot of the novel of Garland and her sister going to an adult summer camp. Something my generation has been known to do is healing their inner child, and that is perfectly depicted in Garland and Dara. They grew up feeling pushed aside and unloved and never got to do fun things like go to summer camp. So, they’re remedying that now. I’m sure older generations may find this concept of healing one’s inner child as cringey and the younger generations being too soft, but I see it as my generation and the future ones being more emotionally healthy.
This novel of course has lots of great LGBT+ representation. Stevie is lesbian, the twin characters who run the camp are both gay, and there is a minor character who is transgender. Garland grew up believing she was straight but throughout the novel realizes she’s also attracted to women. Another big thing I’m a believer in is the idea that it’s never too late to discover yourself. It’s definitely not unheard of for someone to figure out their sexuality as an adult, and oftentimes this delay is due to compulsory heterosexuality. It’s great to see more and more books in recent times exploring this idea of self-discovery even into your 30s.
My main gripe with this novel is the pacing and length. There is this magic about summer camp where bonds are forged in a short amount of time. After all, they’re out in the wilderness away from the stressors of ordinary life and taking part in activities that are bonding. This made me more allowing of the insta-love between Garland and Stevie and the way they become serious so quickly. At the same time, though, if the novel had been longer it could have added a lot to their romance and their other relationships. I felt like I blinked and Garland and Stevie were in love and planning a future together. This isn’t great given it feeds into the stereotype known as the U-Haul lesbian. This refers to the stereotype that lesbians/women loving women move too quickly in relationships and the book itself even acknowledges this.
There is one other weird thing about this novel. At the beginning, Garland has a psychic type vision of her and Stevie’s brother, Mason. This leads her to temporarily believe that she and Mason are destined to be together. Everyone Garland tells about this vision agrees with her without question which was wholly unrealistic. This vision adds nothing substantial to the novel and is just weird. If I had been Morrissey, I wouldn’t have included it, personally.
This novel was a cute, fun summer romance story. Unfortunately, is far too short to have nearly as much substance as it tries to. That being said, if you’re looking for something light and quick to finish off your summer reading then it might be worth picking up.