By Author / Illustrator
Friends and family
Usborne Publishing Ltd
Paperback / softback
Limpet, Steffan and Jared. Three best friends crammed into a clapped-out rust bucket of a car on a whirlwind road trip to forget their troubles and see out the end of the summer. But no matter how far they drive, they can't escape the hidden secrets and slow-burning romance that could upset the balance of their friendship - perhaps forever.
The opening few pages of the book had me thinking was this going to be another maudlin, teenage story that made me feel depressed. I say that because much of YA fiction today seems to be full of misery and pain, but this was actually not the case. Yes there was sadness and frustration and some bad things happening, but set against the back drop of love and friendship. The three main characters are all very good friends (although there is a suggestion of romance between two of them hinted at all the way through the story!). What struck me about it was, it was so real; the desperation and anger at losing someone you love, the confusing feelings of being mates and yet caring so much for your friends, the feeling that things 'will never be the same again' when challenged with inevitable change. Limpet is facing the horrendous reality of her mother dying of alcoholism and the impact this has on herself and her family. Steffan's mother died the previous year from cancer and Jared has a messed up family of his own with a father in prison. Not exactly a formula for fun, but the three friends end up on a road trip and it's in this that they find comfort and laughter; sharing memories, their hopes and fears, realising that whilst all things have an ending, there are new beginnings to look forward too as well. A really great, well-written read which I would thoroughly recommend. 304 pages / Ages 12/14+ / Reviewed by Victoria Dilly.
Suggested Reading Age 11+
This book came at the perfect time for me, I'd read a couple of books that had road trips in but they were either journeying away from suicide or toward them and there was a predictable amount of self discovery to be had along the way. Then The Last Summer of Us landed on my doorstep and I'm really glad it did! For starters it's set in Wales and it's been a long time, if ever, since I read a book with fabulous Wales as its backdrop and with this came Welsh teenagers. Not American. Welsh. Refreshing! As the author, Maggie Harcourt herself says, "I grew up reading books from the US, where they have a lot of country. In Wales you tend to run out of road quite quickly. Most of west Wales you can drive around in a day, so it was more of a case of sending the group of friends here and there, which is what we did as teenagers. We'd just park for a few hours and then start driving again." See what I mean? Refreshing! No ultimate destinations as such, just enjoying the journey, no US road trip across huge swathes of country, just welsh teenagers rocking around! Yes they still had things to figure out (they're from Wales not Mars after all) and needed time to expose, to their closest friends, their secrets, worries and fears. Yes they each needed to discover that ultimately children are not responsible for their parents' actions - the book opens with the funeral of Limpet's mother who died as a result of alcoholism. But all of this combines to make this a hugely enjoyable book. Death, deceit, alcoholism, friendship. I've put the suggested age as 14+ but there's no reason why a well read 12+ wouldn't enjoy it too. 304 pages / Ages 12/14+ / Reviewed by Catherine, librarian
Suggested Reading Age 11+