The Summer Remains by Seth King
New Adult/Adult Standalone
The Summer Remains by Seth King was a completely out of my comfort zone read. I read to be happy. I read to escape. I am very emotional and I cry at the Folgers commercials, so I was really scared to read this one. But so many of my close friends were saying it changed their lives, or that it is their new favorite. I had to see what the fuss was about.
I knew that this was an ugly cry book. I honestly hate them but love them. I hate to be sad, but they usually turn out to be all-time favorites. It had been a while since I braved the ugly cry…so I went in, a box of tissues ready, and not knowing anything more than that it was life-changing amazing and it would make me cry (I won’t spoil anything for you either). So I put on my big-girl panties.
10 pages in and I knew I was in trouble.
24 year old Summer Johnson was born ill. She was born with a condition called “Esophageal Intresia” as Seth said it, it’s really called Esophageal Atresia. Seth decided to make it into a fictional illness for the sake of discretion, because somebody very close to him suffers from the illness. I think this is smart, since he isn’t a Dr, and can get some things wrong, but when I first looked it up, I thought it was a huge error; I hadn’t realized that he had a disclaimer right at the beginning of the book.
On a March day, 24 year old Summer was told she will probably die soon. Her esophagus had ruptured again, her stomach was leaking, and they couldn’t get enough nutrients into her body. Summer has known hardships with her condition. She has never really been able to eat. She has to feed herself milk through a feeding tube attached to her belly. But she does her best to live a normal life. She will either die by the end of the summer, or she will survive an experimental surgery that nobody had ever lived through before. So when they ask her what she wants as sort of a last wish, she tells them to save the Disney trips for the kids, she just wanted a normal, 24 year old Jax Beach Summer. And one more thing…
Anyway, here goes. Since you’re asking, the thing is… I’d like to fall in love.”
I looked down at the ground again as everyone in the room broke my most important rule already: I could feel their pity descending on me, smothering me just like it had my entire life, snuffing out any chance I had at being treated like a normal, living, breathing human who deserved to love and be loved just like anyone else, as they said in the Hallmark cards.
“Oh, honey…” Steinberg sighed.
“It just wouldn’t be fair to someone…” my mother chimed in, just as Angie the counselor lady threw in her two cents, too.
“Sweetie, you have to understand, your situation is very serious – people get irrational during times like these, and if you got involved with someone and the worst happened, well-”
Summer was 24, but I found that both lead characters seemed more like 18 in this novel. They both have the “I hate the world” attitude that most teens have, and Summer is obsessed with all of her friends posting their marriage and relationship photos on Facebook.
But I didn’t want that cookie cutter love from the Disney movies and my social media feeds. I didn’t want some run of the mill summer romance that would fizzle out as soon as the sunrays slanted in the fall and the Facebook Official status went to shit.
Because I, Summer Johnson, Purveyor of Pragmatism, Lover of Logic, Ultimate Believer in the Rational, and Person Who Was Maybe Going To Die Soon, wanted to drown in someone.”
Summer’s obsession with Facebook and what everyone else was doing drove her to join a dating app., and despite the big scar on her face, she puts up a picture and description that ends with “come dislike the world with me”. Summer is cynical, but not really hateful, she just has that teenaged mentality of hating all the happy people. After a few horribly nasty messages about her scar, she gets one from Cooper, and they hit it off immediately. He’s pretty awesome, and I kind of fell in love at first message too!
When they decide to meet, Summer expects him to run the other way when he sees the big scar on her face in person. She hates it, and has been caking on makeup over it as long as she can remember. Cooper is absolutely gorgeous, what would he want with her?
You know, we all have scars, Summer. If yours are only on the outside, you should consider yourself lucky.”
Summer still just couldn’t believe that Cooper was into her. The years of people saying nasty things about her looks has made her self esteem so low, she was just waiting for the punchline.
If humans were colors, Cooper was the most dazzling gold in the world and I was a million different shades of the same boring grey.”
As they get to know each other more and more, how does one tell the other person that they don’t have a working throat, they have a tube in their stomach and they are having a rare surgery in a few months? But finding out about her tube didn’t bother him. It was too late, he was already head over heels.
Hi. My name is Cooper Nichols, and I am absolutely swimming in love with a girl named Summer Johnson.”
These two were just so GOOD. As much of a cynic as Summer is, she is a good person, who just wanted to help others like herself. And reading about the struggles she had with people trying to avoid her and others in wheelchairs or with disfiguring illnesses definitely made me so much more conscious of my reactions. I loved the lessons learned.
Most importantly, I loved the romance. Summer and Cooper are so perfect for each other. My heart broke for this boy and his life, but he made Summer’s dreams come true.
We were soul mates, this boy on the cusp of forever, this girl on the edge of oblivion.”
- I honestly wasn’t sure how it ended when I read it. I kept my hopes up the whole time.
- Summer and Cooper were just so perfect for each other.
- It made me so much more conscious of how I treat people with disabilities, I admit, I look away, afraid to say the wrong thing. Not anymore.
- I highlighted a ton of amazing quotes, Seth has a way with words.
- Despite the waterworks, it had a hopeful feel to it.
- I laughed out loud a few times, there was a light humor to it.
- Summer’s anti-support group was genius.
- Summer had a dignity to her. She was such a combination of a young lady who just wants to be normal, and a person who wants to help others through what she goes through. She brought goodness into everyone’s life.
- I love how even though she was amazing, she was flawed. She was real. She had jealousy, lots of it, that her friends got to live and love. She felt sorry for herself. But she was never a whiny baby about it. It was what it was.
- Cooper. OMG, what can I say about him? He’s perfect. The story was told with some dual points of view, but it was mostly Summer. I would have liked more from him, but I’m glad we got what we did.
- All of the Facebook and social media stuff was so realistic. It must be so hard to grow up in the Facebook day and age, I can’t even imagine.
- The cover. I love the simplicity. I hope he doesn’t change it.
- In major need of a good editor, but I hear I may have an older copy, as newer one was recently uploaded (mine is a few weeks old).
- The characters seemed much younger than the ages they were in the book.
- The writing, though the subject matter was very mature, was a bit immature at times, but I honestly don’t know if that is the author or the characters (see point above).
- I wish we had a little more from Cooper, but that isn’t really a dislike, just a wish (maybe it will come true one day????)
I read the last 40% in one sitting, and went through a full box of tissues. Then later that night I had to drive my son to a show, and had to pull over because everything was blurry. I thought there was something seriously wrong with me, and was about to call my Doctor when I realized that my eyes were all swollen from crying for a few hours straight. But that’s what made it so special.
Rating: 5 stars, if not more, 1.5 heat
The Down and Dirty:
This scene contains a slight spoiler. If you want to go in knowing nothing beyond the first 20 pages that I revealed, do not click here. If you have read it, or know the basics, feel free to click and reveal.
We found a hammock in a courtyard of the hotel that evening. She was already getting weak, so I held her hand and waited as she sort of awkwardly climbed onto the netting. As we swayed in that dirty old thing in the St. Augustine wind a few minutes later, a pastel sunset splashed out above us, the sky itself seeming to shimmer with the love bleeding from our every pore, Summer put a finger on my chin.
“Why are you still here?” she whispered as I planted a kiss on her fingertips, which were much cooler than they had been just a few weeks ago. I pushed her thinning bangs from her hazel eyes and took a breath.
“Because leaving would break me.”
I swallowed. “Looking into the eyes of anyone else, ever again, would ruin me. It’s just…you. It’s always been you. I never want to do this with anyone else again.”
She didn’t know what to say, so I pulled her in and kissed her on the temple. She didn’t need to say a word, anyway. She knew. She would always know. I would make absolutely sure of it.
Purchase The Summer Remains by Seth King
Joanne Christenson says
Another beautiful review. I know this was a hard review to write. To write it you have to relive it and go over highlights – then you end up crying again. Thank you so much for reading this one 🙂
Mia Ellames says
Joanne, thank you for the recommendation, I’m loving this book. It’s different from the majority of my current reads and refreshingly honest. Am a little scared to finish because of the path the characters are on, but as above (great review btw) my big girl panties are pulled up tight!!