Review copy provided by publisher
I'd like to say something clever, but my tongue is paralyzed. This guy is tall and built and -- okay, maybe he's not exactly handsome. Wait, that's not true. He is exactly handsome. From ten feet away I can see the electric blue of his eyes. All of that put together makes him the Superman of redheads.
After a year in rural Cottonwood Creek, Iowa, city girl Laurel is still adjusting to a place where parties take place in barns, guys ride around in pickup trucks, and a killer senior prank involves getting pigs into the principal's office. Fortunately, she has her best friend Aspen in her side. The real problem is that neither the country girl nor the city slicker have boyfriends, nor any prospect for getting them. Clearly, they need to raise their profiles -- and they have a summer to do it.
After I tell you how cute this book is and how it's a great summer beach/pool/lake read (it was!), I have to point out that this blurb just doesn't fit the book (of course, I did get the blurb off the back of an ARC but it's also like that on Amazon, so I'm not sure if they changed it for the printing or not). First off, while Laurel is one of the two main characters, she's not the one telling the story. That quote in italics up there? Is from Aspen, the main-main character and the one telling the story (in first person). Now, Laurel, she's the spark plug, the "naughty" (more adventurous and bored than anything) one who drags Aspen into all kinds of trouble over the summer but she's not actually doing any of the telling.
Oh, how I love summer books. There's just something about the lightness, the freedom that comes with summer -- heat, sunshine, lemonade, crappy summer jobs so you have enough money to buy the clothes you want rather than what Mom'll buy you, flirting with cute boys, and freedom. This book speaks to all that (though Aspen and Laurel do manage to lose their freedom several times during their summer adventures) and made me long for summer.
Aspen reminds me a lot of myself when I was her age. She's got one best friend who she does everything with, she's kind of easily influenced and talked into things that aren't always the best ideas, and she has a hard time standing up for herself and saying no. This gets her in all kinds of trouble with her parents, the police, Laurel, and the local bully-boys (Holy cow, I hate them. Mean as snakes, those boys are! Yes, I'm channeling my inner Yoda.). But she learns from her mistakes and grows as an individual through those experiences.
Then there's the boy. Clay. The ginger with the electric blue eyes. He sees her at her very worst (Stinking of pig poop? Check. Busted by the cops? Check. Puking her guts out after too much Jungle Juice? Check.) and still likes her. All throughout the book, we're teased by the possibility of a relationship. Aspen's brother keeps telling her that Clay likes her. Aspen melts when she sees him. But nothing happens for the longest time. So frustrating! (But realistic, especially in regards to this character.)
Aspen and Laurel are very cute teens just trying to have a good summer before their last year in high school. A&L DO SUMMER is a fast, sweet, funny story that had me cringing (uhg, when Aspen drank so much at that barn party -- poor girl. Been there, tossed my cookies like that.) and rooting for the girls. I definitely recommend this one.