One Perfect Summer by Paige Toon Book Review (SPOILERS)

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Title: One Perfect Summer
Author: Paige Toon
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Publication date: 10th May 2012
Pages: 455
Genre: Chicklit

Out of all the books I bought in my hefty Paige Toon haul, I started off by reading One Perfect Summer, mainly because the weather was treating us fairly nicely and I wanted a book that had a summer vibe (does anyone else do this?)

One Perfect Summer focuses on the life of 18 year old Alice, who meets an also 18 year old Joe whilst on holiday in Devon with her family. They quickly fall in love and are convinced they will live happily every after, but when things take a turn for the worse in the form of Joe's older brother, Ryan, they have to separate quite quickly. They soon loose touch with each other despite Joe's promise to come and find Alice when she starts University in Cambridge.

As the months go on, and there's no sign or communication from Joe, Alice starts a new relationship with a wealthy, German student called Lukas. Things develop quite quickly for Alice and Lukas, but Joe is always on the back of Alice's mind and she can't ever quite shake off those feelings towards him during that one perfect summer. 

We follow Alice (& her somewhat rocky relationship with Lukas) all the way up until she is 26 years old. During this time, she and Lukas move in together, get engaged, get married and start their own careers. But then Alice learns of what Joe has been up to since they met all those years ago; he's become a very successful Hollywood actor. When Joe begrudgingly mentions Alice on a chat show programme, the two get back in touch, despite Lukas's threats of their marriage being over if Alice goes through with it. They rekindle their love, and Joe even tells her he would give up all the fame and fortune if it means they pick up where they left off. Alice cannot deny her feelings for Joe any longer, and the two end up together in the same cottage Alice stayed at all those years ago in Devon.

So, as far as the story goes, that's pretty much it.

I had a lot of thoughts about this book - some good, other's not so much.

We'll start off with the good, shall we?

The chapters of this book are short and sweet, ranging anywhere been 3 and 8 pages in length. As someone who works full-time and has a toddler, I struggle to commit to reading 20+ pages per chapter (and I'm one of ***those*** people who needs to finish a chapter before putting the book down).

Typically, I don't enjoy an ending of a book that doesn't fully finish the story - in my opinion, if there's a story to be told, tell the whole thing instead of leaving the reader wandering. However, in this case, I think it worked quite well. Because the storyline was very lovey-dovey, I think giving the characters a happy ever after would have just been too cringeworthy in this case. The ending didn't fully clear things up, but there was a good hint as to what happened, and there's a follow up short story to this book also (One Perfect Christmas), so all is not lost in terms of closure on the characters and their stories.

Another thing to note, is that Alice's character development was great in this book. She started off as a very immature character given her age (more on that later), but as she grows up, her maturity does too. We initially see her as a very immature 18 year old, but she goes on to become a qualified teacher who can hold her own in arguments and knows what she wants from life in regards to her career - even going as far as telling Lukas she does not want children yet despite the fact he tells her that he does.

Now, onto the not so good, and there's a fair bit of it.

Alice was very irritating and very immature for an 18 year old in the beginning of the book. She acts as if she is about 14 and is a bit too bratty. When I first started reading the book, I honestly thought that this was perhaps just Paige Toon's way of writing characters and I mentally prepared myself to dislike this book based on Alice's character alone, but I was happy - not to mention relieved - that Alice wasn't portrayed this way throughout the rest of the book.

Speaking of characters I didn't like, we need to talk about Lukas. I hated him. He was a degrading and boring and I just did not like him as a character, but in a purposeful kinda way. I think we're meant to have some degree of hatred for his character because the whole book ultimately focuses on Alice's undying love for Joe.

There were a lot of characters in this book that were far too under-developed to warrant getting to grips with, and they kinda just lingered around in the background of the book like why are they even here? Alice's parents, Lizzy, Jessie, Emily, Lukas' mother, Joe's parents & his brother were mentioned a lot but were never actually fully present enough to justify them even being a character or playing any kind of significant importance to the roles of the main characters. It just struck me as kind of odd, as to why there would be so many characters in one book that are meant to influence and have some degree of impact on the two protagonists but were just a bit meh (do people still say meh?)

Characters aside, another thing that struck me as a bit odd, was how jumpy this book was. Like I mentioned above, we follow Alice from the age of 18 right through to the age of 26, so there's a lot of her life to cover in this book, and I understand skipping 6 months, but the whole "17 Months Later" jumps seemed really oddly placed and happened at the wrong time; suddenly we're seventeen months into the future with no explanation or justification as to why.

Also, the dog dies, so that's a bit shit.

Overall, it's not a terrible book, but I can't say it's topping my list of favourites. It's a sweet story but nothing groundbreaking. However, if you're looking for a book that is cute and one that you don't have to use much brain power for, then this is a good, easy read.

Verdict: ★★★

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