Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: May 3, 2011
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
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…
Summers at the Dune follow a predictable routine: the same crowd that’s lived there forever sticks together and does the same thing every year, eats at the same places, hangs out at the same haunts and generally stays away from anything having to do with the “shoobies” – the tourists who pour onto the island and hit all the shiny spots. The summer is set to officially kick off with a big annual bonfire and while normally Anna would be hanging out with her friends, this year she’s the third wheel – Sam and Caroline are now a couple and even though they’re trying to still hang out together, things aren’t the same. Indulging in a little self-pity for always being the odd person out of a couple, Anna separates from the group at the bonfire and sees a guy down the beach, alone – they don’t have more than a chance to lock eyes a few times, but it’s enough for her to feel excited about him.
Anna finally sees him again when he comes into the ice cream store her family owns and she finds out he’s from New York, visiting for the summer. After a few false starts when Will tries to take Anna to dates on the shoobie side of town, the two settle into a deep summer fling, with Anna showing him her side of the Dune and fully embracing him into her life. When Caroline and Sam start to have problems and when Will’s brother Owen says something that reminds Anna that they’ll be leaving soon though, Anna starts to question whether all the time she’s spending with Will is something she’ll cherish or if it’s just leading her up to bigger heartbreak when he leaves. She wonders if ending it before it goes any further will be better than getting any more attached than she already is.
I completely loved Anna. She’s nice, imperfect girl who gets along with her parents and two sisters, follows curfew and comes up with new ice cream flavors when she’s stressed out. Dalton fills the pages with all of the little things that bring Anna to life – the special trinkets she keeps in her dressing table drawer, the details of the beach wrap she uses all summer that’ll get changed next year, the candy that Anna likes and most of all, all the flavors of ice cream that weave in and out of the story. She was a beautiful narrator – even to the end, between her pain and confusion about Will and her love for her family and the Dune, I wasn’t sure what she was going to do.
Unfortunately, the depth of Anna’s character left Will feeling flat to me. He was at Dune Island with his mother and brother because of a family issue that should have lent his character some depth, but it really only felt a little tacked on to me. I didn’t like Owen and his mother’s sudden, convenient, “forgotten” tie to the Dune was an eye-roller. I don’t want to say that Will wasn’t a sweet guy – he was nice, romantic and there were a lot of emotional moments – but most were really due to Anna’s part in them.
I don’t really know if this is a positive or negative – something neutral really – but this would be what I’d consider a G-rated book. There’s no profanity and only references to kissing.
My Summary: The narrator of this story was so beautifully written she felt like she could step right off the page. Unfortunately, the secondary characters were eclipsed by her and the plot felt like something I’ve read many times before. While it was a joy to read Anna, take her away and there wasn’t anything new.
My Rating: C+