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Sixteenth Summer by Michelle Dalton

Sixteenth SummerLife on Dune Island is always the same. For Anna, that means summer after summer of hanging out at the beach, scooping ice cream, and seeing friends. Anna can’t really complain, though, because it’s not too bad a way to spend summers, but ever since her best friends Sam and Caroline realized that they were more than just friends, Anna has just felt like a third wheel. And though she wishes them every happiness, she’s sick of it. But then she meets Will, a sweet guy from New York who’s here on vacation with his family. Anna knows Will’s just a tourist and that he’ll be leaving at the end of the summer, but she falls for him anyway. Anna has never felt about anyone the way she feels about Will, but as the summer winds down, she’ll face one of the hardest decisions of her life. Will their separation be too much to bear and should she just get it over with, or should she make the most of what little time they have left?

Sixteenth Summer is a sweet and innocent read perfect for the summer season. Sometimes I actually avoid books that are advertised as summer reads because while they are lots of fun, they’re usually without much substance. Sixteenth Summer, however, isn’t quite typical. Yes, there is the nearly all consuming romantic relationship between Anna and Will that drives much of the story. However, this book is also about family, belonging, and learning to love oneself; these other aspects are worth noting even though the emphasis of the story is mainly on Anna’s relationship with Will. What I really appreciated about this central romance was its innocence; I feel like many other romantic beach reads are much more mature in their content, so it’s nice to see the other side of the coin. Dalton has done a spectacular job in portraying Anna and Will’s relationship; the difficulties that they deal with are complex yet easy to understand, and Anna’s corresponding indecision over how to deal with their relationship makes her feel even more realistic rather than wishy-washy. With vivid characters and, of course, the perfect summery backdrop, Dalton’s young adult debut is a fun, quick, and meaningful read.

Sixteenth Summer will be enjoyed by readers who also liked The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han, Cruel Summer by Alyson Noël, and Sea Change by Aimee Friedman.

Rating: 4.25

Review copy from Simon & Schuster Galley Grab

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