Today, is the first of two Treasured Tales for Young Adults stops on the Summer My Life Began Blog Tour. Today, I will be sharing with you my review of The Summer My Life Began. Stop by the blog tomorrow for an interview with author, Shannon Greenland.
The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland
Book description (from Goodreads) -
Elizabeth Margaret—better known as Em—has always known what life would contain: an internship at her father’s firm, a degree from Harvard and a career as a lawyer. The only problem is that it’s not what she wants. When she gets the opportunity to get away from it all and spend a month with the aunt she never knew, she jumps at the chance. While there, Em pursues her secret dream of being a chef, and she also learns that her family has kept some significant secrets from her, too. And then there’s Cade, the laid-back local surfer boy who seems to be everything Em isn’t. Naturally, she can’t resist him, and as their romance blossoms, Em feels she is living on her own terms for the first time.
For as long as Em can remember her life has been planned, structured and controlled by her parents and grandmother; and Em has always gone along with it…until now.
Overwhelmed by her structured life, Em just wants the chance to breathe and enjoy life. For Em, enjoying life means following her secret passion for cooking by becoming a chef; but how can she become a chef when it will disappoint both her parents and grandmother?
Hope comes in the form of a graduation card from Em’s Aunt Tilly – an Aunt that Em has never heard of – inviting her to spend the summer at her bed and breakfast, the Pepper House, in the Outer Banks. This is just the escape that Em needs.
Curious as to why she has never heard of her Aunty Tilly, Em questions her parents, but only receives evasive answers. When Em heads to the Pepper House, the family secrets continue with Aunty Tilly being just as evasive as her parents. Em is determined to find out why Aunty Tilly has been kept a secret from her and her sister, Gwenny, for all these years.
While at the Pepper House, Em begins to spend time with Cade – the Pepper House’s young handy-man. He brings out Em’s impulsive side, but with Cade keeping his own secrets, can Em truly get to know him? And when Em discovers her family’s secret will she be ready for the consequences?
I absolutely adored The Summer My Life Began. It was one of those novels where I didn’t want it to end because I was enjoying it so much. I just wanted to keep reading and reading.
One of the things that made me fall in love with this novel was the incorporation of cooking; I loved how when Em was cooking she would mention the ingredients she was using. I found myself thinking: “that sounds yummy, I could make that.”
Em was a very likeable character and I really enjoyed reading her story. She has such controlling parents and a very hard and emotionally cold grandmother, and Em feels that she has no control over the direction that her life is taking but she has no idea how to stop it. The only light in her family life is that of her sister, Gwenny.
I loved Em and Gwenny’s relationship; it was just beautiful. They are so close and have this unbreakable bond. They care so deeply for each other and would do anything for one another. They aren’t just sisters, they are also friends. The only person to have ever see the real Em is her sister, Gwenny, and while at the Pepper House, Em feels free for the first time in her life – she can just be herself one hundred per cent of the time. She can cook, laugh and not hide her true feelings. She can just be Em; and she loves it.
Being at the Pepper House opens up a whole new world to Em. It’s not just that Em is spending time with an Aunt and cousin that she never knew she had, she is learning about herself and how it is okay for her to follow her heart and her dreams. It’s just a matter of finding the courage to confront her parents.
Helping Em to find out what she truly wants is Cade, and I just loved him. He is, in a way, broken; he has his own family troubles and I loved how Em and Cade helped each other. It was beautiful to read. I just so very much enjoyed Em’s story. I loved seeing her gain more confidence in herself and her cooking.
Not only is The Summer My Life Began a romance novel, it is also a novel full of mystery and intrigue. I was turning the pages eagerly, desperately wanting to know what the family secret was – and wow, what a big secret.
The Summer My Life Began is a heart-felt, heart-warming, beautiful novel, making it the perfect summer time read.
*Thank you to Penguin Publishing, JKSCommunications and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of The Summer My Life Began to review.