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Summer Lovin’, Had Me a Blast

Stephanie Perkins returns with a short story anthology for summertime swoon.

Summer Lovin’, Had Me a Blast

BOOK REPORT for Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins

Cover Story: Met a Book, Cute as Can Be
The Best: "Love Is the Last Resort" by Jon Skovron
The Bittersweet: "Sick Pleasures" by Francesca Lia Block
The Weird: "Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail" by Leigh Bardugo
Bonus Factors: Summer Camp, Movie Nerds, Groundhog Day, Mental Health, Amusement Parks, Summer School, Callbacks
Break Glass In Case Of: Summer Dry Spells

Cover Story: Met a Book, Cute as Can Be

Jim Tierney's cover artwork and story illustrations are in the same style as what he created for Stephanie Perkins' first short story anthology -- because, really, why mess with success? Which also means that this cover exists as an adorable GIF!

My favourite part about starting each story was figuring out which couple they are on the cover -- a fairly easy task, with the spot-on deets. And maybe more authors should use some sort of visual representation of their entire cast as a diversity check. Like, is this the world that you want to portray? Are you holding up an accurate mirror to real life? Fortunately and unsurprisingly, Summer Days and Summer Nights passes with flying colours (#sorrynotsorry for the groan-worthy pun).

The Deal:

In the follow-up to her My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories, Stephanie Perkins has recruited all new YA masters of swoon to craft short stories with sizzle and sweetness for the summer.

The Best: "Love Is the Last Resort" by Jon Skovron

There's not a bad one in the bunch (I actually have so many faves), but Jon Skovron's tale about the staff and guests of the fancypants Hotel del Arte Spa and Resort appeals to my sensibilities the most, with its off-beat narration, stylized dialogue, and matchmaking hijinks. Think Pushing Daisies meets The Grand Budapest Hotel at a country club.

The Bittersweet: "Sick Pleasures" by Francesca Lia Block

Identified by only their first initials, a quartet of friends frequent their favourite club in the San Fernando Valley during their summer after high school. But the narrator's firsthand education in love and heartbreak is just beginning.

The Weird: "Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail" by Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo's fantasy story is weird in a good, ethereal way. Grace and Eli spend their summers investigating Idgy Pidgy, a mythical creature purported to be living in the waters of Litlte Spindle -- and what they discover is even more incredible than they could have ever thought. 

Bonus Factor: Summer Camp

Movies like It Takes Two and The Baby-Sitters Club had already convinced me that I missed out by never having participated in a true summer camp, but Jennifer E. Smith's "A Thousand Ways This Could All Go Wrong" def. seals the deal. A counselor at a children's day camp, Annie receives an unexpected assist from her classmate (and crush), Griffin, in connecting with one of her charges that has autism. Love -- and basketball (!!!) -- ensues.

Bonus Factor: Movie Nerds

I'm really more of a TV person, but I have such fondness for the passion of cinephiles like Posh, Meredith, and our friends at Birth.Movies.Death. In Libba Bray's "Last Stand at the Cinegore", Kevin, Dani, and Dave work at a boutique horror theatre, which hosts a rare showing of a supposedly cursed movie on its closing night -- a plot that totally reminded me of a Charmed episode. (I didn't say I like good TV.)

Bonus Factor: Groundhog Day

If I could have any superpower, it would involve stopping time or having more of it in some way. That's sort of what happens in Lev Grossman's "The Map of Tiny Perfect Things", in which Mark takes advantage of reliving the same day over and over by reading his way through the library (aka GENIUS). When he meets Margaret, who's also aware of the time loop, they set out to find every awesome event -- no matter how big or small -- that occurred on this day.

Bonus Factor: Mental Health

Some of the stories deal with heavier subject matter, like a potentially fatal car crash in Veronica Roth's "Inertia" and family members gone before their time in Brandy Colbert's "Good Luck and Farewell", with depression and dismantling the stigma associated with it as themes in both.

Bonus Factor: Amusement Parks

In "Souvenirs" by Tim Federle, Matt works at the souvenir stand of a lackluster Adventureland-esque amusment park, while his boyfriend, Kieth (not a typo), in the era-hopping revue -- and has scheduled their breakup, WTF. Meanwhile, Lulu and Lucas from Cassandra Clare's "Brand New Attraction" reconnect at her dad's demon-powered carnival.

Bonus Factor: Summer School

OK, this might seem like a strange bonus factor. But just like Flora in Nina LaCour's "The End of Love", I had also voluntarily enrolled in summer school* -- although without any summer school babes like Flora's once and future crush, Mimi, to show for it.

*It was actually every summer from Grade 9 onwards so that I could take more classes during the school year. Then I chose a college program that had summers filled with either school or internships because OMG I KNOW, I'm such a nerd.

Bonus Factor: Callbacks

As readers of My True Love Gave to Me might suspect from the title, Stephanie Perkins' "In Ninety Minutes, Turn North" is indeed a continuation of Marigold and North's story from "It's a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown". Plus, Cassandra Clare's "Brand New Attraction" has a peculiar commonality with her best-known series of quasi-incest (the leads here are step-cousins).

Break Glass In Case Of: Summer Dry Spells

With creativity, imagination, and heart to spare, Summer Days and Summer Nights is a welcome reminder that there can never be too much love -- all types of love -- in the world.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from St. Martin's Griffin via Raincoast Books. I received neither money nor froyo for writing this review (dammit!). Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories is available now.

Mandy Wan's photo About the Author: Residing in Edmonton, AB, Mandy unabashedly loves YA lit, frozen desserts, and terrible puns.