Retro Friday: Seventeenth Summer

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie of Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc.
.

Seventeenth Summer by Maureen DalySeventeenth Summer by Maureen Daly
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Number of pages:  340
My copy: paperback, bought from Fully Booked

A summer to remember…

Angie always thought high school romances were just silly infatuations that come and go. She certainly never thought she would fall in love over one short summer. But when she meets Jack, their connection is beyond any childish crush. Suddenly, Angie and Jack are filling their summer with stolen moments and romantic nights. But as fall grows closer, they must figure out if their love is forever, or just a summer they’ll never forget.

* * *

Considered to be the first YA novel ever published, Maureen Daly (1921 – 2006) started writing this when she was 17 and finished it when she was in college, and finally published in 1942. Seventeenth Summer is about Angie Morrow’s last summer before she goes off to college spent in her hometown in Wisconsin. Angie catches basketball star Jack Uluth’s eyes and he asks her out on a date and they fall in love. As summer ends, their inevitable separation looms and they have to decide whether their love is forever or just for that seventeenth summer.

I knew from Chris’ short post about this book that it was written in the 1940’s, so that kind of prepared me for what this novel would be like. It took me a while to reconcile the setting of the book with the cover which looks a little too modern for how it was written. I had to stop reading the book for a while and start it again so I would have the proper state of mind while reading it (and believe me, Jane Austen’s Emma put me right there) and appreciate the novel for what it’s worth.

Unlike the modern YA contemporary novels, Seventeenth Summer is quiet. There are hardly any interesting parts, really and to be honest, Angie is kind of dull. She’s not like any of the feisty or snarky female heroines that I know. She’s shy, almost awkward and plain looking, as she often described herself. Angie spends most of her time doing housework and helping her mom manage the household, and up until Jack’s arrival in her life, she tends to shy away from people from her school. The rest of the novel tells us about Angie’s dates with Jack and her thoughts about him, how he relates to her family, what she feels and all the questions involved in having a crush to dating someone and figuring out if it’s love or not. There are no mean girls to torment Angie, little parental resistance for their going out and it’s all really just an account of Angie’s summer. Angie and Jack’s relationship is also very chaste compared to what comes out nowadays (not that I mind) — just a few kisses here and there. I was honestly surprised to read the word “necking”. How long has it been since I last heard that word?

If you’re not into contemporary, you’ll probably be bored to death with this novel because like I said, there are no exciting parts. Truth be told, the B-plot with Angie’s sister, Lorraine, was more exciting than the actual main plot. It wasn’t the kind of romance that we read in books nowadays — I don’t think Jack even ever gave Angie flowers (so he has no need for ProFlowers coupon codes, not like they already existed then). However, I find that the beauty of Seventeenth Summer lies not in that, but in how the author captured Angie’s emotions with her relationship with Jack. I thought Daly described it perfectly: the first tingles of a simple crush, the recollection in the morning after a nice date, the longing for a phone call, the first kiss, the pain of realizing the first mistake you committed unknowingly and the delicious feeling of seeing everything in rose-colored glasses because of love. Not that I know how it feels exactly, but if I were to fall in love, that would be how I’d want it to feel. I was honestly surprised to find myself noting so many quotes in the book that convey those feelings, such as:

In the brightness of the morning last night didn’t seem quite real…I knew in a little while I would be getting up…there would be no more of the exquisite uncertainty of last night, no queer, tingling awe at the newness of the feeling, and no strange, filling satisfaction of being just alive. All that was last night because it was night and because it was the first boy I had really been out with. Not because it was a special boy…but because it was the first one. After a while, maybe after years…I would think of last night and remember it and that breathless loveliness… (p. 26-27)

…there is something so final, so husband- and wifelike about going to church with a boy. Religion is too personal a thing to share promiscuously and the thought of being there with Jack filled me with a kind of awe… (p. 120)

And as each day changed into evening…I didn’t even feel like a girl anymore. And all my thoughts turned into little prayers, which I meant so much that it made me ache all over. “Just once,” I kept saying. “Let him call just once.” (p. 134)

Sometimes, when we sat in the movies, Jack would hold my hand. It wasn’t silly. We did it because it was good to sit so close together in the darkness and, somehow, by holding hands you can carry on a conversation without talking. (p. 183)

I’m not sure if I ended up liking this novel because I read it during February and I was really feeling the Valentine’s air, or if I’m really just a sap at heart. This is one of those books that you’d rather read as an in-between book and you just want to feel like laying back and enjoying a good, clean summer romance. Seventeenth Summer isn’t the most exciting or mind-blowing read, but it has that air of sweetness and simplicity that almost makes it timeless.

Rating:

Other reviews:
Teen Ink
Tahleen’s Mixed-Up Files
The Hub

Required Reading: February

Sometime around January, I was thinking of what books I would have lined up for February seeing that it was Valentine’s month and it’s sort of the right month to pick up romance novels and such. How cliche of me to do that, but I liked having themed reads. I like reading certain books at a certain time of the year because the month’s celebrations call for it. I think that makes it more fun (albeit masochistic, especially in February, if you know my stories :P).

Anyway, as I was choosing books from my Mt. TBR, I wondered if I could do a theme for every month. Which led to me thinking that maybe I can have kind of direction for the books I read in this year, instead of just choosing randomly. I would be able to conquer my TBR a bit for the entire year but without the big pressure of reading them all, you know?

So I came up with my own, sort of TBR challenge for 2011, where:

  • I would pick 4 books from my TBR pile that I should read within the month that sort of fits one kind of theme.
  • These books should not be included in other 2011 challenges.

This doesn’t mean that I would only read the books I listed within the month. These are just the books that I should read within the month, but I can read other books, too, in the pace that I want to. Call it required reading, I guess.

WAIT. Okay that’s the name of this “challenge”. Required Reading. :D

I have constructed a list in my planner which is still subject to change. I will share them every start of the month, of course, but for now, my February line up!

Thanks, we heart it!Well it’s obvious the theme is love. Like I said, it may be a bit masochistic for me because of the current state of my love life (or lack thereof — but I will not post that here. If you want more of that, it will be posted in the personal blog :P)…but hey, everyone loves a good love story, right? With all it’s red and pink magic. :)

So from my TBR, here are my February Required Reading!

  • Seventeenth Summer by Maureen Daly
  • Delirium by Lauren Oliver
  • Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin
  • Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis

There’s a book on summer love, a dystopian novel about love being a disease, a novel about a wedding, and finally a retelling of a Roman myth with the god of love. I even feel like throwing in a few more romance novels in the mix here. Let it be a month full of books on love, yes? :)

In My Mailbox (10): Hodge-Podge

It’s been a while since I did an In My Mailbox post, and I’ve been meaning to do one for the past weeks but life has been a little bit hectic lately. So I apologize. Like I mentioned in one of my last posts, we moved to an apartment down the street because our house is being renovated. Moving is a pain when you have so many books, and I realized as I was packing that I do have a lot of books. More than I thought I owned!

This next picture is rather depressing, but I promised my books they’d have a better home once the house is finished by early next year (my parents promised me a bigger shelf in my room). I am planning to let go of some of my books though, but I’ll sort them out soon, probably after NaNoWriMo.

So, my books. In 9 huge plastic bags:

I’m pretty sure my favorite ones won’t be dented in those plastics.

Anyway, so the moving thing kind of stopped me from acquiring books since I really have no place to put it. But…does that stop me? Of course not. Especially when there are ebooks to get and read! And I’m using books as a reward for me to get to certain word counts in NaNoWriMo!

But now you also know why my word count is way behind. Shiny books = procrastination. :P

Anyway, here are the books I got for the past few weeks for today’s In My Mailbox post! In My Mailbox is a weekly book meme hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren, where bloggers post about what books received that week, be it via  mailbox, library or store.

I guess I should start with the books in picture, first. :)

  1. Storm Front by Jim Butcher (Fully Booked). I gave in to curiosity because I know a lot of people like this and recommend this. The only reason I’m hesitant to jump in this series is because it has 11 books — too much investment, IMHO. But let’s see. Got this as a reward for myself in reaching 12,000 words last week. :P
  2. The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley (Libreria). I’ve been eying Robin McKinley books in Fully Booked ever since I’ve heard praises about her from Chachic, so I was really planning to buy Sunshine first (the sparkly vampire book LOL). But I never got around to it, then Chachic reviewed her latest book, Pegasus, and she said that she recommends reading other McKinleys first before reading that, especially Beauty and The Blue Sword. Just my luck, I got to visit Libreria earlier with some Filipino Book Bloggers (more detailed accounts of that in Jason‘s and Blooey‘s blogs), there was a copy of The Blue Sword. :) I call that fate. :P
  3. Seventeenth Summer by Maureen Daly (Fully Booked). This one is an impulse buy, really. I don’t know why I got it, except I know it’s really a reprint of a YA book published in 1942. I guess I was feeling the need to read some contemporary books, and this one just jumped out at me. I know Chris from Ficsation liked this one, so I thought it was worth a try. :)
  4. Skin by Ted Dekker (Book Sale). I’ve been wanting to buy more Dekker books, but some of them are just too expensive. I saw the hardcover of Skin in Booksale, and well…I didn’t let it go. :)

Not in picture:

  • The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell (Book Depository). My first Book Depository order is a zombie book. Not surprising, of course. I’ve been looking for this book for ages but I can’t find it here, so I got it online. And I think I love Book Depository already, especially for hard to find books. :) There’s a more detailed post on how to order in Book Depository in Ariel’s blog if you’re curious.

Ebooks (no more background stories for this one, since I’m a bit tired of writing…plus I don’t think I should explain why I got free ebooks, right? :P):

  • Awaken by Kate Kacvinsky (NetGalley)
  • Cryer’s Cross by Lisa McMann (Simon and Schuster Galley Grab)
  • The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell (NetGalley)
  • Savannah Grey by Cliff McNish (NetGalley)
  • Deceit by Brandilyn Collins (Amazon)

Pretty hefty mailbox. Of course, I have no idea when I’ll be able to read this, but I think that’s a given already. Mt. TBR, hello!

So, what’s in your mailbox this week? :)