Tuesday, March 4, 2014

SEASONS IN THE SUN by Kristen Strassel (Review)

This week I'm thrilled to participate in my friend - and fellow vampire author - Kristen Strassel's blog tour for Seasons in the Sun, which came out this last December and is part of the Night Songs series.

Book synopsis
Summer has finally arrived, along with a boy who will forever change the life of fourteen-year-old Callie. After growing up hearing stories about Tristan Trevosier and his famous family, Callie finally meets him when he spends the summer on Martha's Vineyard. Seventeen-year-old Tristan is a hurricane of destruction and rebellion, and he quickly blows a hole right into Callie's sheltered life. Callie sees a side of Tristan that he doesn't show anyone else. She's determined to make everyone see what she sees in him. Callie defies her parents by leaving the island with Tristan. But when his ugly habits rear their head, Callie realizes maybe she's the one who's wrong about him. He's beyond her help. But it's too late for her to walk away. This summer, she learns that love can be stronger than reason.

My rating: 3.5 stars
Seasons in the Sun is a sweet little contemporary YA romance novella about fourteen-year-old Callie's infatuation with Tristan, her neighbor's nephew, who is visiting Martha's Vineyard for the summer.

What I like best about this book is Callie. She's a teenager just beginning to explore her identity as an individual rather than as an extension of her mother. I remember this time in my own life very well, and I thought Strassel did a phenomenal job of presenting a young woman who is torn between wanting to please her parents and wanting to assert some independence from them, who wants to be part of the "in" crowd but also has a strong internal moral compass that sometimes conflicts with what her peers want her to do. She was basically me at that age. Loved that.

One moment in particular that caught my attention was when Tristan reflected back to Callie how he saw her relationship with her mother:

"She's your mother, but my god Callie, she's unbearable. She has to understand if she keeps treating you like she does, these are the things that are going to happen." 
"What do you mean?" 
"She controls your every move. She doesn't let you go to a real school, she's got you working at her restaurant all the time, I'm not even sure you have any friends outside of the restaurant since you never talk about them. It's like she keeps you in a cage." 
I stopped dead in my tracks, my brain processing what he said. "I never thought of it like that," I said quietly. 
"Of course not, because you never knew it any other way."
This is a great moment that exemplifies the kinds of things Callie can learn from an outside perspective. It's clear to me that she's not just accepting Tristan's point of view because she looks up to him; she recognizes that there's some truth to what he's saying. It helps her see her life differently, to realize that her relationship to her mother isn't necessarily how it had to be, and thus helps her differentiate herself from her parents. Great stuff.

That said, it really is a companion book to the Night Songs novels and didn't really work for me as a stand-alone. It read as a moment in time that has significance when put into the context of the rest of the series - it laid the foundation for Callie and Tristan's relationship in the other books - but there wasn't a central conflict raised in the beginning and resolved by the end, and the characters don't really seem to change as a result of their experiences in this book. (And, to be completely honest, I also was occasionally distracted by an error in punctuation and grammar, but it could be that the review copies of the book went out before the final copy edits were made.)

But despite the fact that I don't yet know the older versions of Callie and Tristan, I liked this book. I was pulled along through the story and practically read the whole thing in one sitting. I like the characters, feel that Strassel has created a complete world, and found the twist at the end believable and satisfying. It's teenage sexy without getting graphic (and no full-on sex), it's the right mix of romance and real, and I wanted to know where Callie ends up, so I went right out and bought Because the Night, the first book in the series.

I recommend this book for fans of young adult contemporary romance who want a summer romance story that pulls you along and for fans of the Night Songs series who are eager for more Callie and Tristan and want to read about their first summer together.

Intrigued? Check out Seasons in the Sun (Night Songs book #.5) on Goodreads

About the author
Kristen shares a birthday with Steven Tyler and Diana Ross. She spends each day striving to be half as fabulous as they are. She’s worn many hats, none as flattering as her cowboy hat: banker, retail manager, fledgling web designer, world’s worst cocktail waitress, panty slinger, now makeup artist and aspiring author. She loves sunshine, live music, the middle of nowhere, and finding new things to put in her house. Kristen is represented by Pam van Hylckama Vlieg of Foreword Literary.

Other books by Kristen: Because the Night (book #1) on Goodreads

Kristen on Goodreads:
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Kristen’s Blog:

Don’t forget to join in on the book buzz using hashtag #SITS

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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