Reviewed by Miranda Boyer
For the last 12 years, I’ve read Judy Blume’s Summer Sisters at least once a year – sometimes twice. There is something about this story of friendship between two girls that resonates with me to this day. Maybe this is in part because I grew up with sisters. Maybe it’s because I’m still friends with my childhood girlfriend, my own summer sister. For these reasons, this review won’t be as ‘typical’ as others.
The book follows Caitlin and Vix through the many ups and downs of their lives from a friendship that started over summer vacation in the sixth grade and lasted into their thirties. We get to watch these two girls grow into women over the course of their summers spent together. Supplementary we get to read the narration through many of the books other characters. However, never once does Blume voice Caitlin, only letting us see her through Vix’s rose colored glasses. The two are the epitome of opposite attraction. Vix is prudent, introverted, perceptive, hard working, and comes from a middle class working family. Meanwhile Caitlin is far more irresponsible, extroverted, free-spirited, the apple of everyone’s eye including her upper-class family.
There are many layers to this book and it seems that it doesn’t matter how many times I read it, I’m able to take something new away. I was 18 when I first read Summer Sisters. Back then I think I envied Caitlin a little, relating much more to Vix. I envied Caitlin’s ability to let loose, to travel freely alone, her gumption, the carefree way she viewed the world. As I’ve grown it’s Vix who I envy. I moved away to a small nowherevill town and fell in love. I was in love the the town, it’s people, but mostly I was in love with the person that it turned me into. Or as I’ve learned, the person I let myself become; stronger and more independent. When I left the town and moved on with my life I traveled the United States in my car, alone. I saw things, experienced things that made me a better, stronger, wiser person. I didn’t feel like Vix while living there. I’d let myself grow wild. But now, I crave stability (I always have in one way or the other), I want to buy a home, I want to make something of myself, I want things that feel out of my grasp but I’m not going to let anything stop me from achieving my goals. I feel thirty and much older, more experienced then the child who read Summer Sisters 12 years ago.
I guess what I’m saying, is that this is the sort of book that someone can relate to repeatedly over the years, whether your sixteen or sixty. I’m saying that if you’ve never read this book, that you should give it a few hours of your life. It’s short but oh so sweet. It will leave you wishing for a warm beach with an old friend.