Review: Sixteenth Summer
Anna expects her 16th summer to be like every other. She lives on an island off the Georgia coast; every summer tourists flock to the beach locale and Anna helps her family serve them ice cream by day and then hangs out with her friends by night. While she enjoys her work creating and dishing up new ice cream flavors, Anna has little interest in doing anything with the “shoebees” outside of the ice cream shop. That is, until her 16th summer, which turns out to be unlike anything she could have imagined.
When Anna meets Will, a shoebee from New York City, she is forced to change her perspective on tourists. A relationship that turns from lust to love takes over Anna’s life. But Anna is only 16 and her life is on the island, so with the end of the summer must come the end of the relationship, right? Anna begins to wonder whether the inevitable heartbreak is worth it. What is the cost of a summer romance? Michelle Dalton’s Sixteenth Summer asks that age-old question: Is it better to have loved and lost or never to have loved at all?
Sixteenth Summer is the perfect escapist beach read. Like a summer romance, you expect it to be ephemeral, but enjoy it while it lasts. The characters are charming and lovable, as is the local culture. Offering sea turtle watching, ghost crab catching, competitive sand castle building, quirky 4th of July parties and more, this book is the perfect light, fun read to get lost in for a few hours. Dalton had me longing for sunshine and sandy beaches
This novel may be a beach read, but Anna’s inner turmoil offers unexpected depth. She not only reshapes her perspective on what it means to be an outsider, but in choosing a romantic partner she must also choose the kind of life she wants for herself. Sixteenth Summer is full of first love as sweet as Anna’s endless ice cream concoctions, but that sweetness is occasionally soured by its transience. It captures both the joy and heartache of being 16 and in love. There are no false promises, and sometimes you simply have to embrace living in the moment. At the end of the summer, Anna must return to being an islander and Will a New Yorker, but perhaps those are not roles that have to last forever. Anna’s dating life forces her to grapple with her feelings about whether she wants to be an islander for life or flee her home in favor of adventure in a big city. After all, if Anna can fall in love with Will, perhaps she can fall for life away from the island.
This is a must-read beach book for the year. Anna, Will, and their families are delightful company for a few hours of reading. If you enjoy romance, ice cream, and southern charm, be sure to pick up Sixteenth Summer.