Today’s Bookanista recommendation is
The Summer I Found You by Jolene Perry
From Goodreads ~ All they have in common is that they’re less than perfect. And all they’re looking for is the perfect distraction. Kate’s dream boyfriend has just broken up with her and she’s still reeling from her diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. Aidan planned on being a lifer in the army and went to Afghanistan straight out of high school. Now he’s a disabled young veteran struggling to embrace his new life. When Kate and Aidan find each other neither one wants to get attached. But could they be right for each other after all?
I bought this book because Jolene is awesome, and because I think the cover is really pretty. Luckily, the story beneath the cover lived up to my expectations. I adore Aidan. He’s been through tons, but he doesn’t spend a lot of time feeling sorry for himself. His inner commentary about learning to live life with just one arm is fascinating, and so well written. Similarly, Kate is very much a winsome character. She’s got a lot going on with her recent diabetes diagnosis, plus her boyfriend’s just kicked her to the curb. She’s not sitting around having pity parties either, though, which is a big part of why The Summer I Found You is such a quick and enjoyable read. Aidan and Kate just work, and it’s such a joy to watch their relationship blossom, even through awkward moments and missteps. Also, the chemistry between these two… So good, guys! Big recommend if you’re a fan of romantic contemporary young adult novels!
And now, a bit from author Jolene Perry…
FIVE THINGS THAT WERE INTERESTING ABOUT WRITING A TEENAGE CHARACTER WHO IS MISSING AN ARM
(Me and my good friend, Allie Brennan, do these “five things” posts a LOT. Normally they’re not this long, but I wanted to use excerpts. And yes, there are lots of things that happen in The Summer I Found You that have nothing to do with Aidan’s lack of an arm!)
ONE – GETTING BREAKFAST
“I step into the massive kitchen and pull a bowl from the cupboard. Everything for me now requires multiple steps. Open cupboard door wide enough that it stays open. Let go of door. Pull out bowl. Set bowl down. Reach back up to cupboard door to close it. Pull open silverware drawer. Let go of drawer. Pick out spoon. Set spoon down. Close silverware drawer.
One damn thing at a time. Three months without my arm, and there isn’t a second of the day I don’t think about it. The thing is, no one in this house has yet to comment on it. Not my cousin Jen. Not my cousin Will. Not my aunt. Not my uncle. There’s No way they’re not at least a little curious…
TWO – GIRLS NOTICING HIM (Like Kate, hilarious truth-blurter)
“Oh,” Jen says as we pull up. “Aidan-is-a-bit-moody-and-lost-an-arm-in-Afghanistan.” And then she jumps out of the car.
What? How can she have a cousin living with her for weeks and I know nothing of this part of it? I leap out my side, and then have to smooth the T-shirt fabric of the dress down again to make sure my panties are covered. How did I get talked into this? Wait. “What did you say about arms?”
“Shh.” Her eyes widen as I come around the front of her car.
Her gangly brother walks up with the guy who must be Aidan. He has the family blond hair and gorgeous light blue eyes. But he also has broad shoulders shown off by the snugness of his T-shirt. One of his shoulders leads to an arm. The other one does not.
I know I’m staring, because it’s definitely something I should NOT be staring at. But my brain’s having a hard time wrapping around it. It feels like someone’s erased what should be there.
“Kate,” she hisses. “You’re staring.”
“So, what does the other guy look like?” I grin at Aidan, and then realize I don’t know this guy, and it was possibly one of the dumbest things to ever leave my mouth.
THREE – AWKWARD CONVERSATIONS
“How do you open jars?” I turn to face him.
“Um…you sort of put it all out there, don’t you?” His face is unreadable. Is he annoyed? Does he care?
“Sorry.” I push out air. “But I just say stupid crap. You’ve already probably realized that, though.”
“I put the jar between my legs.”
“Sounds like a pain.” I do loads of things every day that take two arms. How does he stand it?
“I can’t believe I’m even talking about it after saying that stupid thing when I got out of the car.” Jen seriously should have known better than to pair me up with her cousin.
“No. It’s okay. I mean, no one ever asks. It’s like they all try to pretend my arm’s still there and it isn’t. Seems like sort of a silly thing to pretend.” He shrugs again, but this time he only shrugs the shoulder with the arm.
“Does it still hurt?” The words come out before I can think. He nods once. It looks like resignation. “Like hell.” His answer is totally unexpected and makes my gut drop.
I mean, he’s out and about, hanging with my neurotic self on the Ferris wheel.
“It is what it is.”
“So, you can ask me something personal and embarrassing. Even us out.”
FOUR – KISSING
But now I wonder—what will she actually think about me only having one arm? What will happen when she accidentally runs her hand over where my arm should be? Will it matter? Will she care?
I’m actually relieved that my shoulder stump is against the seat. Out of reach.
She leans forward and our lips come together in a small soft kiss, before pulling away. I kiss her back, but this time our kiss is deep enough that the electricity flies through my body sending tingles to my toes, fingertips, every piece, every part. All of it. And I should probably be thinking more, but it feels so good to not think, to just feel. I slide my arm around her waist, frustrated I don’t have more power to keep her close, and kiss her again.
FIVE – MORE THAN KISSING
I move my hands up his chest and around his neck, but then I slide them down, unsure if I should run my hand over where his arm used to be.
“Can I see your arm?” I ask.
Instead of answering, he pulls his T-shirt over his head and drops it to the floor, and I forget to look at where his arm used to be. I’m looking at his chest, his tight abs, his back, and whoa, wow. Shelton’s toned, sort of. He’s thin, but Aidan’s built like…I guess he’s built like a man. Different. Nervous tingles hit me in the pit of my stomach. A man. Older, more experience in life, I’m sure in love, in everything.
“That bad?” he asks.
“I wasn’t looking at your arm.” Stupid, stupid lack of filter!
“Are you checking me out, Kate?” he teases.
But I don’t have it in me to tease. Not right now. I run my hand over his chest, down his stomach and even have the guts to slide my fingertips into the front of his jeans…
And that’s my story. ~ Jolene
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