Book review: Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins
Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins (first published in 2016 by Pan Macmillan)
I’ve been a huge fan of Stephanie Perkins since I read her debut novel, Anna and the French Kiss. There’s an element of charming quirkiness that make her books adorable, relatable and oh so very swoon-worthy.
When she opted to do something a little different and ended up editing and contributing to My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories, her very first anthology that focused on wintery Christmas romances, I became an even bigger fan.
This time around, she provides us with the opposite: Summer Days and Summer Nights, a collection of summery short stories that captures the magic of love in all of its sensational and summery glory. In fact, I confess that when I first started reading this book, I was expecting a collection of feel-good, marshmallow-gooey stories to squee over for days.
What I got was that and then some more.
When we talk about summer, we often think of beach days and ice-cream, flip flops and surfing the waves. What we forget is how many layers there are to summer. From those swelteringly humid days, to the tempestuous thunderstorms resulting from the blistering heat, summer is a season that is far from being one dimensional. It’s a lot like love: hot and steamy, with enough heat to make you burn (from either passion or heartbreak).
And that is exactly what the marvellous list of authors (including Stephanie, who contributes a follow up to the story originally featured in the winter anthology) have showcased in their stories.
Here’s a quick round up of what I thought of each of the stories:
Head Scales, Tongue, Tail by Leigh Bardugo (Rating: 3.5/5)
A gorgeous, if rather odd little read featuring river gods, monsters and a girl who isn’t sure whether or not her crush is completely human. If you’re a fan of stories with a magical realism feel to it, you’ll quite enjoy this one.
The End of Love by Nina LaCour (Rating: 3/5)
A lovely female/female centric romance from Nina LaCour. A meeting with old friends results in a girl running into an old crush. The story feels a bit rushed (but that is inevitably the tricky thing about novellas), but it’s a sweet and beautifully written story. Nina’s writing is gorgeous.
Last Stand at the Cinegor by Libba Bray (Rating: 4/5)
A movie concession stand, two boys, an unrequited crush and a cursed movie makes for one bizarre and hilarious short story with a retro and supernatural feel to it. I’m definitely going to be reading more from this author.
Sick Pleasures by Francesca Lia Block (Rating: 3/5)
A bittersweet story about the should have and could have been moments that is only all too relatable. It’s not very popular with a lot of readers but I loved the writing style of this story all the same.
In Ninety Minutes, Turn North by Stephanie Perkins (Rating: 5/5)
My favourite out of this entire anthology so far, Stephanie Perkins revisits couple Marigold and North following a break-up. You should definitely read the original story in the first anthology before you read this one. I squeed all the way through it.
Souvenirs by Tim Federle (Rating: 4/5)
A story of self-absorbed theatre boys, amusement parks and sultry summer days. It’s beautifully written and reflects on the turbulence of summer and the fleeting nature of summer flings.
Inertia by Veronica Roth (Rating: 4/5 )
A story about the memories of summer and the spaces in-between. Of our perceptions, the bittersweet days of summers gone by and of summers lived-but-not-lived. It's only when Claire, the protagonist of this story, realises she's about to lose her best friend in the worst way possible, that she finally begins to work out that sometimes you have to push through the inertia to learn to live again.
Love is the Last Resort by Jon Skovron (Rating: 3/5)
An adorable tale of matchmaking shenanigans at a holiday resort. It features a diverse cast of characters, obnoxious and wilfully blind parental figures and an almost unrealistically sappy happily ever after ending.
Good Luck and Farewell by Brandy Colbert (Rating 4/5)
A happy-sad story of saying goodbyes and learning to make room for new hellos. It’s a tale filled with prickly and crackling emotions from two defensive protagonists who slowly learn that there's more to the story if they just listen.
Brand New Attraction by Cassandra Clare (Rating: 4/5)
Fun, action-packed, and set in a carnival with all manner of magical delights and creatures, Cassie Clare's short story has all of the perfect summer time vibes and romantic shenanigans you could ask for.
A Thousand Ways this Could Go Wrong by Jennifer E. Smith (Rating: 4/5)
A million points to Jen for featuring a male protagonist with Asperger's syndrome. It's done beautifully, matter of factly and without being insensitive. It’s a summer camp romance that is sweet and filled with misunderstandings, but Jennifer handles the communication between the two protagonists deftly and beautifully.
The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things By Lev Grossman (Rating: 3/5)
A weird, but delightful little story about being stuck in a time loop and trying to find the perfect moments when everything seems the same. It’s a tale that plays on our perspective and lack of appreciation of what we have, and features city trekking, map drawing and an adorable science nerd.