Friday, May 31, 2024

Book Review: Summer Fridays

By Allyson Bales

Summer 1999: Twenty-something Sawyer is striving to make it in New York. Between her assistant job in publishing, her secret dreams of becoming a writer, and her upcoming wedding to her college boyfriend, her is plate full. Only one problem: She is facing an incredibly lonely summer as her fiancĂ© has been spending longer and longer hours at work . . . with an all-too-close female colleague, Kendra. 

When Kendra's boyfriend, Nick, invites Sawyer to meet up and compare notes about their suspicions, the meeting goes awry. She finds Nick cocky and cynical, and he finds her stuck in her own head. But then Nick seeks out Sawyer online to apologize, and a friendship develops.

Soon, Sawyer's lonely summer takes an unexpected turn. She and Nick begin an unofficial ritual—exploring New York City together every summer Friday. From hot dogs on the Staten Island Ferry and Sea Breezes in a muggy East Village bar to swimming at Coney Island, Sawyer feels seen by Nick in a way that surprises her. He pushes her to be braver. To ask for what she wants. Meanwhile, Sawyer draws Nick out of his hard shell, revealing a surprisingly vulnerable side. They both begin living for their Friday afternoons together. 

But what happens when the summer is over?

Summer Fridays is a witty and emotional love letter to New York City that also captures the feeling of being young and starting out, uncertain what to do on your summer Friday. It’s also perfect for readers who remember when “going online” meant tying up the phone line, and the timeless thrill of seeing a certain someone’s name in your inbox. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

When I saw that this read was “You’ve Got Mail for a new generation, set in the days of AOL and instant messenger banter,” I knew I wanted to read it right away.  I absolutely LOVED the movie with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks.  It is up there as a favorite memory of all time. Also, when I saw that the setting was New York in late 1999 that sealed the deal.  I was an older teen during that time and LOVED whenever my family would take a trip into the city.

I assumed this would be a fluffier fun and flirty read based on the description and the cover but was pleasantly surprised it was so much more than that.  I started this on our last day of a long weekend camping trip and could not put it down.  We spent hours sitting in traffic and I was riveted.  When it was my turn to drive, I was secretly hoping my wife would get a second wind and carry on so that I could find out what happened to Sawyer and Nick. 

I felt so captivated by them and also reflective.  Both Sawyer and Nick are sorting through their own demons and I really enjoyed following along on their adventures and growth as well as what each of them brings out in the other.  Sawyer is tentative and in her head so much and I love the way that Nick handles that. 

“Look Sawyer, It’s pretty simple.  If you want to do something, you should do it.”

Who doesn’t need to hear that from time to time?  I think I do and it was such a refreshing and heartfelt response.  I also really loved how Rindell peeled back the layers with Nick.  His character processed so much of what so many of us did around this time.  The way that Sawyer impacts him is so captivating and raw.  Part of the story also occurs around 9/11 and I can still remember exactly where I was when our whole world was turned upside down. 

“When your home is attacked, you suddenly have a very clear picture of what- and who- your home is to you.”

It really made me reflect a lot on that time in my life. So many of us get lost in the mundane and I love that Nick’s character focuses on so many more important things.  He may be my new favorite male lead character. 

I also really enjoyed the love letter to New York City.  There are so many fun things that Sawyer and Nick do together and I really could not get enough!  Rindell’s writing is so descriptive and enthralling. I really cannot wait to dive into her backlist now.

If you are also a fan of You’ve Got Mail, New York City and Summer Friday adventures, definitely check this one out!

Thanks to Dutton for the book in exchange for an honest review. Purchase Summer Fridays here.

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