That Summer was not my favorite book, yet I’ve given it a five-star rating – which raises the question: do you have to like a book to appreciate it? Here are my thoughts on That Summer by Jennifer Weiner.
First, the positive. I liked the writing, which, being a writer, always matters to me. This book was well-crafted vis a vis words, sentences, and timing. Characters were well-fleshed out through both present action and flashbacks. There was a central issue driving the plot, and the author handled it with care and thought.
That central issue? A fifteen-year-old girl is raped by a boy in the summer dunes of Cape Cod, while another holds her down and a third watches. That girl, Diana, then refuses to discuss it with anyone despite the worry of those around her, simply suffers in silence through the rest of high school, drops out of college, and flounders.
Little by little, she puts herself together, actually finding a meaningful life until, by chance, she sees a photograph of the man who raped her. At that point, the story veers toward revenge.
This is where I backed off emotionally. I came to not care for the protagonist, came to question the nature of her revenge. And this says something about me. Had I been in Diana’s shoes, I’d have done things differently. Given what the author wrote for Diana, I struggled to feel empathy.
This made me think – made me consider why – made me look at the issue of rape and its consequences in a deeper way than I might have.
Which is good.
That’s why, though I didn’t agree with the author’s treatment of the issues in this book, I’ve given That Summer a 5-star rating.
It made me think.