Thursday, September 20, 2012


Jordan Bradt: Ah, Judy Blume.  SUMMER SISTERS, another book purchased in the used bookroom of the public library.  They have such treasures…and such crap; however, yes, we were excited to find this.  It’s not a treasure by any means.  It is crap.  I expected the usual Judy Blume trash from it, but since it is an adult book, I also expected a little something more.  Yeah, no.  As a note, I felt depressed by the time I finished reading it. 

Flat characters.  They all blended together.  The moms, the dads, the random characters, the boys, the girls.  They don’t even stand out by their gender roles.  If you described them by any other characteristics other than gender, they are THE EXACT SAME PEOPLE.  I even had trouble keeping the two main characters straight in my mind.  Plus, every character was shallow.  They ruined other people’s lives.  They messed up their own.  All around, it is a depressing read.  The characters didn’t even learn or develop.  They stayed two-dimensional throughout the entire 300+ pages.  The story even jumps between perspectives (constantly, in every chapter), but we still don’t get to know them any better.

No plot.  The point of the story is…friendship?  Maybe?  Victoria (Vix) and Caitlin are friends.  Sort of.  They aren’t healthy for each other.  During the summers, Victoria went to Martha’s Vineyard with Caitlin.  Caitlin’s dad lived there.  They slowly grew up (the first summer occurred in 1977 when they were 12-years-old). 

Horrible mother.  Victoria’s mother is another classic mother who doesn’t understands, expects the daughter to take care of the household, yells a lot, and is extremely selfish.  Caitlin’s mother is the classic only-cares-about-herself figure.  Maybe I can’t connect because I have a wonderful mother, but each time I read about these dreadful Judy Blume mothers, I get further turned off from the story.  I look forward to finally finding a Judy Blume book with an awesome mother-figure.  Will it happen?  Probably not, but maybe.  This certainly wasn’t that book. 

Creepy brother.  Caitlin has an old brother.  They call him Sharkey.  He makes a motor-like hum when he eats.  Nobody cares about him.  He’s such a messed up person.  Despite that, he has no redeeming characteristics so you don’t even feel sorry for him.  Oh yeah, and he wants to have sex with Caitlin and Victoria. 

Parents have sex.  Ew.  Just, ew.  

Random WTF moments.  Caitlin’s dad, known as Lamb, takes them to a nude beach, where Lamb’s sort-of girlfriend Trisha strips down and shows off her waffle-like nipples.  The girls decide to babysit for a movie star and he comes onto Caitlin; he even drives them to a secluded beach at night to warn them about guys.  Abby gets Victoria a scholarship to a private school, where she gets a urinary tract infection; Caitlin was ignoring her, but suddenly she’s nice again.  Lamb’s sister with the forgettable name wants to have sex with Caitlin’s crush, but decides to use her magic pole instead; yes, her “magic pole,” as if she’s 10.  They know when you’ve had sex because of pubic hairs under the blankets; WHAT?!  At the end, Caitlin disappears so they assume she’s dead; how is that even an ending?

Jewish character.  Lamb married a woman named Abby.  She is Jewish.  They needlessly mention that a lot, especially Lamb’s grandmother.  Out of everyone, she was my favorite, but I didn’t like her all that much.

Physical handicap.  Victoria has a brother with muscular dystrophy.  He was sort of cool, but we never got to see him much or learn about muscular dystrophy.  Then he died.  Suddenly.  Victoria went home to her family, was sad, and returned, all very rushed.  At the end, she names her son after him, but it isn’t an “aw” moment, just a haphazard mention.  The reader has to put the two names together and go, “Ohhh, in memory of the brother.” 

Weird grandmother.  Lamb grew up with his grandmother.  She’s rich.  She reads dirty books that the girls find.  She has like no role, other than to be controlling, but even then, she isn’t that controlling.  She’s just old.  I learned nothing from her and the richness felt very random.  Until she appeared, I thought that Lamb was poor.  I wasn’t like, “Oh, cool, he’s rich, I’m excited and happy for him.”  I was just, “WTF, new idea suddenly tossed in without editing the beginning?”

Awkward friendships.  Caitlin helps Victoria explore her sexuality.  Yes, as twelve-year-olds.  They orgasm together.  They call it the Power.  They count pubic hairs.  They bathe together. 

Growing up.  Victoria worries she will catch the Big Boob disease from Trisha.  Victoria gets her period and they walk a really long ways to buy pads to put in her pants (first of all, if you got your period and walked all that way, your pants would be soaked through.  Second, you put them in your undies, not your pants), then they hitchhike with some cute guys they sort-of know and Victoria worries they will see the bulge in her shorts.  (So, were they pants or shorts?)  I must have had an odd childhood.  I never worried about my breasts getting too big and I didn’t dwell on getting my period.  Wow, I was so weird.

The Countess.  Victoria’s mom works for a Countess.  In America.  Really?  The Countess visits Lamb and Lamb remembers when she sexually molested him when he was five-ish.  The Countess is randomly thrown in a few chapters later; another time when I think Judy thought up something to add and never edited the beginning to make it fit. 

Potential, thought-provoking themes.  Victoria loves Caitlin because she’s rich; she could have learned that money isn’t everything, but instead, she keeps loving Caitlin.  Caitlin loves Victoria because she’s like a toy; Victoria could have become her own person, but instead, she continued to be Caitlin’s toy.  Even at the end, she couldn’t stop thinking about Caitlin. 

Random sex.  Victoria and Caitlin.  Lamb and Trisha, Lamb and Abby (both eluded to, not described).  Victoria and Bru.  Caitlin and Von.  What might have been Caitlin, Victoria, Von, and Bru.  Caitlin and her ski instructor.  Caitlin and an older woman.  Caitlin and Bru.  Victoria and Gus.  Other people I don’t remember. 

Divorced parents.  I honestly thought Victoria’s parents were divorced at first.  Either I didn’t follow the story well enough, or it wasn’t clear.  Caitlin’s parents are, in fact, divorced.  Caitlin went with her mom. Her brother went with their dad. 

I read reviews on GoodReads.  People either loved this book because they could connect so well (I must be really weird.  I never wanted to have that kind of “friendship” with any of my female friends and my life never involved these crazy moments) or they hated it for many of the reasons I just pointed out.  My favorite was when someone said her writing style sounds as if she’s telling it to a child.  It does!  She talks down to her readers.  No, Judy.  You don’t want to tell little kids about two girls questioning if they are lesbians.  It scares me because a lot of this is probably reminiscent of Judy’s own life. 

One reviewer said he/she felt guilty for reading it.  I feel like I wasted time.  So, read or pass on it, but be prepared.  It’s just a longer version of Judy’s other work, but with supposedly older characters who all act as if they are in elementary school. 

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