Review: The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi

Book Title: The Summer I Wasn’t Me
Author: Jessica Verdi
Release Date: April 1st, 2014
Publisher: SourceBooks Fire
Genre: YA/LGBT
Book Link: Goodreads
Pre-Order Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleBook Depository
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Lexi has a secret…
Ever since her mom found out she was in love with a girl, seventeen-year-old Lexi’s afraid that what’s left of her family is going to fall apart for good. 

You are on the road to truth. Help is on the way.

The road signs leading to New Horizons summer camp promise a new life for Lexi—she swears she can change. She can learn to like boys. But denying her feelings is harder than she thinks. And when she falls heads over heels for one of her fellow campers, Lexi will have to risk her mother’s approval for the one person who might love her no matter what.

Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from SourceBooks Fire via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Wow, with this book being Jessica Verdi’s second book ever and second book that I have really enjoyed of hers, she has earned herself a spot on my auto-buy list. I’ll read anything this woman writes. She’s that awesome. She doesn’t shy away from the more difficult topics which I applaud her for. She goes for it 100%

I wasn’t sure if I’d get this but I decided to request it anyway and boy am I glad I did. I read it in one night and even after a decent night of sleep, I still don’t know how I am going to review this book, but I’ll give it a shot.

When we first meet Lexi she is being driven up to New Horizons by her mother. New Horizons  is a de-gayification place. Yup, totally cringe-worthy already. Seriously not cool at all but I know these things exist and that super conservative families place a lot of value in this type of thing.

You’d expect Lexi to be defiant and refuse to go along with this. But she’s resigned to her fate for the next 8 weeks. She’s doing it for her mom. She desperately wants her mom back. Her mom hasn’t been the same since Lexi’s father died and things only got worse when she found out that Lexi was in love with another girl. Yet ever since she agreed to come to New Horizons, her mom has perked up and she’s more like the mom that Lexi remembers.

Within hours of being there, Lexi learns that she will be required to wear a uniform complete with a cross necklace so that “Jesus will be with you on your journey” As an atheist, this line made me cringe big time but then I had to remember that this camp was a highly religious camp. She meets campers, David, Matthew, Carolyn as well as others

The director or leader or whatever you want to call him, Mr. Martin is kind & understanding. He has been where Lexi was and he claims that SSA or Same Sex Attraction was cured by him choosing to shut it down and recommitting to God. So Lexi looks up to him. There is also Kaylee and Brianna, both who were campers a decade ago and Lexi wants so desperately to be like them.

Yet as the days go on, they are forced to participate in an activity called Father Wounds. This is where Mr. Martin attempts to find a reason for the sickness that he calls being gay. At this point, I had to put the book down and walk away for a bit. I was SO flipping ANGRY. For Lexi, he says she’s gay because her mother worked out of the home and her father was more her friend than a father. So her gender roles were all messed up. 

Seriously? I swear he’d have a field day with me. My mom worked and I was cared for by my grandma and uncle and my father was nowhere to be found. Mr. Martin was an absolute lunatic.We don’t realize exactly how much of a lunatic he is until much later in the book. This book doesn’t shy away from some of the most extreme lengths that these places go to in order to “pray away the gay”

Lexi becomes really close to Matthew. Matthew clearly does not believe that this will work and the counselors and Mr. Martin have a field day with him. He’s been with the same guy for a long time and his feelings for the boyfriend don’t shift one iota.I won’t hand out any spoilers but just know that Matthew is funny and sweet and awesome and he is put through the wringer.

Oh Carolyn, I really liked how she and Lexi became friends and how they bonded over The Great Gatsby. Totally made me want to reread that book.How they would leave little notes for each other was absolutely adorable. So darn CUTE. Their first kiss was sweet and I absolutely loved it. Unlike the other teenagers, Carolyn was the one who wanted to come to New Horizons and de-gayify herself.

Watching Lexi go through the summer was awesome. She totally changed her opinion on this whole thing. She began to realize that it was a total crock and that being gay is okay and nothing to be ashamed of. She wasn’t ready to fight for Zoe, but near the end of this book, she realizes that she wants to fight for Carolyn. That is, if Carolyn will allow her to.

This book was so awesome and heartbreaking and full of hope. The only issue I had was with the ending. I wanted more resolution to a few things and was bummed that we didn’t get that I hate being vague but it involves some major spoilers so I will not say anything about why I wanted more resolution and for what. However the book itself was awesome and well worth the 4.5 stars I am going to give it. I definitely plan on ordering a hard copy for myself.

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