Monday, April 29, 2024

Review: Seven Summers

Seven Summers by Paige Toon
Six summers to fall in love. One summer to change everything.

Liv and Finn meet six summers ago working in a bar on the rugged Cornish coastline, their futures full of promise. When a night of passion ends in devastating tragedy they are bound together inextricably. But Finn’s life is in LA with his band, and Liv’s is in Cornwall with her family—so they make a promise. Finn will return every year, and if they are single they will spend the summer together.

This summer Liv crosses paths with Tom—a mysterious new arrival in her hometown. As the wildflowers and heather come into bloom, they find themselves falling for one another. For the first time Liv can imagine a world where her heart isn’t broken every autumn. Now Liv must make an impossible choice. And when she discovers the shocking reason that Tom has left home, she’ll need to trust her heart even more . . .

Find Seven Summers: Goodreads/Amazon 

 After finishing two 4,000 words essays at midnight, I woke up at 2am to fly to Spain for Spring break. Unsurprisingly, I was tired, overworked, and looking for the perfect vacation read. At the Edinburgh Airport before our flight, I picked up Seven Summers.... my choice was an excellent one. 

Seven Summers, set in Cornwall over (you guessed it) seven summers, is the perfect novel with a beach setting that places aside other stereotypical tropes of the 'beach read.' Toon's novel delves into the struggles of grief, heartbreak, and adulthood. At its heart, the novel is about, family, responsibility, and growing up. Unlike other fluffy beach reads, Seven Summers is more somber and serious. 

Still, the book at parts is undeniably fun, readable, and (compared to the heavy eighteenth century fiction I have been reading lately) light. Scenes in the local pub, at parties, and along the beach are vibrant and fun. Moreover, I really enjoyed the novel's emphasis on art and music. Liv is a sculptor and the book chronicles her artistic journey, and, likewise, Finn is a musician and songwriter. 

The romance in the novel is set out interestingly with a stark contrast between past and present. The structure of Seven Summers cleverly seeks to keep readers in the dark over which man Liv ends up with until the very end. This strategy, rather than feeling like a cheap love triangle, kept me engaged while never feeling like the men were in a competition. For most of the novel, the loves are separated by time. Still, the ending ultimately surprised me.

In some ways, I felt the ending was unrealistic, and overly dismissive towards a certain key character. In other ways, I felt the ending was clever and satisfying. Perhaps it depends on how much you believe in destiny, fate, or any sort of divine prescence leading a person into another's life. That's all I will say for now, I promise there are no spoilers here. 

Seven Summers is unputdownable, sometimes devastating, but ultimately hopeful. Toon successfully immersed me into Liv's vibrant life in Cornwall. I loved reading this book while on Spring break, on trains, planes, and on the beach. For anyone looking for a slightly more serious beach read — this book is for you.