My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Goodreads: Anna is dreading another tourist-filled summer on Dune Island that follows the same routine: beach, ice cream, friends, repeat. That is, until she locks eyes with Will, the gorgeous and sweet guy visiting from New York. Soon, her summer is filled with flirtatious fun as Anna falls head over heels in love.
But with every perfect afternoon, sweet kiss, and walk on the beach, Anna can’t ignore that the days are quickly growing shorter, and Will has to leave at the end of August. Anna’s never felt anything like this before, but when forever isn’t even a possibility, one summer doesn’t feel worth the promise of her heart breaking…
My take: I loved this story. It is probably the most genuine and true-to-life summer first love stories. It was simple and fun. Anna, the protagonist, is discovering her own beauty through her first relationship. Dialogue is hilarious and made me laugh out loud. On top of the romance aspect, Anna has a family and those dynamics along with her old friends, Caroline and Sam who are discovering romance themselves. The setting is unique - Georgia beach. The quandary is broached - what if it's only for the summer and not forever?
The story is much like my own story of summer love. There was no bodice ripping or sex or anything I'm embarrassed about years later. It was, like Sixteenth Summer, the summer someone I liked - really, really liked, liked me back. He told me I was beautiful. We had a lot of fun together. And the relationship changed me permanently and for the good. Like Anna and Will.
I loved the book because it reminded me of such a pivotal moment in my life. Like Anna and Will, I wondered what would happen after the summer. Would we still know each other? Would we keep in contact? Would we see each other again? Unlike Anna and Will, I found out the answers to these questions. Turns out, My Will (not his real name) became a good friend after proving to me that I was beautiful and interesting that summer. We were never close friends but I still love him for being where he was and who he was that summer.
We crossed paths every so often for the next 10 years. I went to his wedding reception. I'd run into his mother and keep up on the news. He went to Stanford and joined a prestigious law firm. He had three children then nearing his 40th birthday, had a fourth child at the same time as he was diagnosed with a rare cancer. I found his wife's blog and found her to be completely engaging and articulate. I stalked her blog whenever I could. I went to his funeral and grieved for myself and for his family.
I keep a copy of his obituary in my night stand and I still see what a gift he was to me - not only that one summer but years later when his widow became a very dear friend.
But before the grief and tragedy, there is the summer of sweet, innocent love. And that's what this book reminds me.