The Summer of Letting Go

Author: Gae Polisner
Pages: 316
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Format: Paperback (ARC)
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Summer has begun, the beach beckons and Francesca Schnell is going nowhere. Four years ago, Francesca's little brother, Simon, drowned, and Francesca is the one who should have been watching. Now Francesca is about to turn sixteen, but guilt keeps her stuck in the past. Meanwhile, her best friend, Lisette, is moving on most recently with the boy Francesca wants but can't have. At loose ends, Francesca trails her father, who may be having an affair, to the local country club. There she meets four-year-old Frankie Sky, a little boy who bears an almost eerie resemblance to Simon, and Francesca begins to wonder if it's possible Frankie could be his reincarnation. 

Knowing Frankie leads Francesca to places she thought she'd never dare to go and it begins to seem possible to forgive herself, grow up, and even fall in love, whether or not she solves the riddle of Frankie Sky.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

My Summary: Francesca knows it's only a matter of time before things fall apart. 

Her parents' marriage has been rocky since the death of her younger brother Simon, but it seem as if things have reached the tipping point. With her mother throwing herself into work for her brother's charity, her father appears to be finding solace in the beautiful woman next door. 

And as if that wasn't enough, Frankie can't seem to stop thinking about her best friend's boyfriend ... and it seems as if he may return her feelings - something neither of them knows how to deal with. Add to that the striking similarity between her deceased brother and the little boy she's been hired to take care of .... Could the little boy be the reincarnation of her brother, or is Frankie's guilt getting the best of her? 

My Thoughts: This book was incredibly hard to put down. Frankie was such a relatable character, and your heart breaks for her as she attempts to deal with everything on her plate. Growing up with such a huge burden - her guilt over allowing her brother to drown - has left Frankie with nothing but self-depreciating thoughts and the mindset that she deserves whatever bad things happen to her. 

The mystery of whether or not Francesca's father was having an affair was intriguing. I also really enjoyed reading about Frankie Sky - you could really see how much spending time with him allowed Francesca to heal and move past her brother's death. 

The romance element was a great addition, although I'm glad it wasn't the main focus of the novel. Instead, it tied in perfectly with everything else that was going on in Frankie's life - showing, I think, that romance isn't the only thing we have to deal with as we get older. Frankie's family issues took precedence over her feelings for Lisette's boyfriend, and I'm glad. I found myself tearing up while reading at some points - especially those involving Simon's death and Frankie's guilt. Gae Polisner definitely knows how to rip your heart out with words.   

Final Thoughts: I recommend this novel to fans of contemporary literature as well as those who enjoy YA and romance. It would also be a great read for those looking for a darker coming-of-age novel. I'll be checking out more from the author as soon as possible!

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