Summer Days and Summer Nights by Stephanie Perkins
Published by Pan Macmillan on June 2nd 2016
Genres: Romance, Contemporary, Short Stories, Young Adult
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Summer Days and Summer Nights is a beautiful collection of twelve gorgeously romantic short stories, by some of the most talented and exciting YA authors writing today. Collected together by Stephanie Perkins, the editor behind My True Love Gave to Me, this wonderful collection of summer romances will delight all fans of YA.
Summer Days and Summer Nights includes stories by: Leigh Bardugo, Nina LaCour, Libba Bray, Francesca Lia Block, Stephanie Perkins, Tim Federle, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovran, Brandy Colbert, Cassandra Clare, Jennifer E Smith, and Lev Grossman.
This was a great collection. It’s so many things: diverse, creative, funny and sad. That’s actually what surprised me most of all: overall, this was a very melancholy, bittersweet collection, especially when compared to the mostly fun and feel-good My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories. The cover makes it look very cutesy, but it tackles a lot of important issues.
“Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail” by Leigh Bardugo – 4.5/5
This was such a great place to start. Bardugo writes some of the best short stories and this bittersweet, summery love story about river spirits was no exception. It’s full of blazing atmosphere and lyrical fairy tale quality, with an ending I didn’t see coming. “The summer took on a different shape – a desperate, jagged shape, the rise and fall of a dragon’s back. The world felt full of hazards. Every song on every album bristled with portent.”
“The End of Love” by Nina Lacour – 4/5
A lovely lesbian romance about a girl whose parents are divorcing, so she escapes from home by attending summer school and going camping with new friends (and the object of her affection). It’s sweet, touching and the atmosphere is full of summer possibility. “Just because a person reveals something to you about yourself doesn’t mean they’re meant to do more than that.”
“Last Stand At the Cinegore” by Libba Bray – 2/5
This one didn’t work as well for me. It’s less romantic and atmospheric, choosing instead to be a silly, lighthearted ode to classic horror movies. Lots of quirky references and some funny moments, but most of the humour wasn’t to my tastes. The plot felt a little scattered and messy too. “Your emotions get super weird after you’ve been hunted by demons and forced to banish your boss to hell.”
“Sick Pleasure” by Francesca Lia Block – 4/5
I’m still reeling from this story because it was one that snuck up on me. It doesn’t end how you think it will and it left me feeling quite overwhelmed with emotion, especially after I spent most of the story thinking it was just “okay”. It’s a heady, drug-fuelled summer haze of a read, and the ending was one I couldn’t stop thinking about. “It can be hard to understand why we run toward certain people and away from others at different times in our lives. Why we search so hard for that thing we are looking for, and then run so fast when we find it.”
‘‘In Ninety Minutes Turn North’’ by Stephanie Perkins – 3.5/5
Perkins’ stories are just so damn cute. This continuation of her story in the winter anthology sees a return to the relationship between Marigold and North. In truth, I’m not sure we needed to return here and part of me would have liked to see something completely new, and yet it was still sweet and adorable. It’s pretty obvious how the story will play out, but fun to watch it happen. She smiled. “You’ve always been my favourite character.”
‘‘Souvenirs’’ by Tim Federle – 3.5/5
This one made me sad. It’s “break-up day” for Matt and Kieth before they part ways. The characters were well-drawn and developed in the small amount of page time the author had and it left me with a lot of emotions. It’s a gay romance/break-up with Dickens references and a lingering bittersweetness. Our first kiss happened beneath a murky moon, with mosquitoes buzzing around me like a halo.
‘‘Inertia’’ by Veronica Roth – 2/5
I really didn’t care for Roth’s short. Arguably, this was the most creative of the bunch with a sci-fi setting and memory play, but it honestly felt like another Tris and Four story. Long, lacking in chemistry and quite boring for the most part. “Come on. This isn’t where the story starts.” He reached for my hand, and the scene changed.
‘‘Love is the Last Resort’’ by Jon Skovron – 3/5
Hmm, I quite enjoyed how this one played out, but there were way too many characters for a short story. Still, it was enjoyable and fit well with the summer theme – set in a vacation resort where a bunch of teens play at matchmaking. Very light, funny and breezy compared to the other stories. Dear reader, I want to assure you that this is not a story about love or romance, regardless of what you may have read on the cover.
‘‘Good Luck and Farewell’’ by Brandy Colbert – 4/5
Another quite dark tale that opens up on a Chicago beach, summer sun shining down and sand between the characters’ toes. However, it soon becomes clear that all is not well and Rashida’s beloved cousin is moving to San Francisco with her girlfriend. What follows is a story about grief, depression and race, offering up a diverse, important addition to the anthology. More about love in all forms, than simple romance. She loves me, but that’s a different kind of love, and it’s not enough to make her stay.
‘‘Brand New Attraction’’ by Cassandra Clare – 2/5
The only thing that saves this from 1 star is the description of the carnival. I guess I’m one of those people that enjoys the creepy glow of carnivals, the mysteries lurking in the Tunnel of Terror, and the talk of popcorn and cotton candy. Other than that, though, the story lacks a hook. And, given the opportunity to write any kind of love story, with any kind of love interest, Clare decides to write about two cousins? Not my thing. Yeah, yeah, I get that they aren’t “blood-related”, but still not my thing. I tried to decide if it was immoral to lust after your step-cousin. I figured it wasn’t. We weren’t actually related. No shared blood.
‘‘A Thousand Ways this Could All Go Wrong’’ by Jennifer E. Smith – 3.5/5
This story grew in strength as it progressed. Initially, I thought this was standard romance fare that one would expect from the author, but things are gradually revealed that will change our minds. I especially liked the way our perception of the male love interest shifts as new information is brought to light. Slow-burn and natural. “Well,” he says with a shrug, “there was only ever two options. Either it was going to be fine or it wasn’t.”
‘‘The Map of Tiny Perfect Things’’ by Lev Grossman – 4/5
I really didn’t expect to like this one so much after my bad experience with The Magicians, but maybe Grossman’s writing style is more suited to shorts. I found this Groundhog Day love story intelligent, thought-provoking and different. Unlike many of the others, it keeps you asking questions until the end. Here we were, the last boy and girl on earth, and I couldn’t think of anything to say.
I'm Emily May - a twenty-something year old book blogger from the North of England. Currently going wherever the wind or the storyline takes me. Find me on Goodreads
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