Saturday, April 27, 2013

Review Nyrae Dawn Four Summers

Four Summers by Nyrae Dawn

Charlotte Gates is tired of being Charlie Rae. She loves the lake she was raised on, their rental cabins, and spending her nights under the stars…but inside she yearns for more.

After his freshman year, Nathaniel Chase’s family spends their first summer at The Village. From the beginning Charlotte intrigues him. She’s the girl who always says what’s on her mind, wins at night games, and each time she looks through her telescope, gets lost in the sky.

Over the course of four summers together, Charlotte and Nathaniel become best friends, share firsts, mend broken hearts, protect each other’s secrets, overcome tragedies…fall in love. And say goodbye…

Charlie wants out of The Village. Nate wants her to have her stars. And they dream of being able to do it all together. But life isn’t as easy as their summers.

Each summer is told in alternating points of view between Charlie and Nate. Journey with the pair, and their friends, as they share their story about growing up, discovering who they are, making tough choices, and falling in love again and again.

4 Star Review

The first summer of this novel finds Charlie Rae age 15, helping out her father with his camp alongside her best friend, Alec at the Village in the town of Lakeland Village. She feels overworked and underappreciated. Her mother and her sister, Sadie Ann, are indifferent at best to her. She can never earn her mother’s admiration. Guys are not something that interests her at this point in her life either, that is until…

“I believe that everyone has certain key moments in their lives they’ll never forget. Moments marking the beginning or end of something. Moments that will always own a little piece of you. You can track decisions you make or paths your life follows and they always lead back to one of these defining moments. This is one of them.”

Charlie yearns for more in her life, to not have a sense of loss; she wants “more life”.

That first summer, Summer Boy, Nathaniel Chase, his brother Brandon (these two won the lottery on the gorgeous gene pool) and his parents arrive for vacation. Charlie is a little smitten with him, he’s hot and cool and all things unapproachable. She’s comfortable with her best friend Alec, he may be good looking and constantly surrounded by girls, but it’s sports that that interest him. Alec is comfortable.   

Nathaniel is interested in Charlie, he likes her. He enjoys her explaining the stars she see and calls her “Star Girl “and “Charlotte” and makes her feel special. Alec fits in with Nate and Brandon, especially Brandon, who is a jock too. Charlie and Nate share secrets and kisses and stories. He gives her a matching necklace with a star dangling on it and he leaves. Back to his life and the girl he agreed to give some space to for the summer.

They stayed in touch for a few months, but Nate went back to his life and Charlie had her first boyfriend. When he returns the next summer, he has changed. Something bad happened and he blames himself and the incident changed life for his family too. But he and Charlie reconnect and become close once again. And he leaves again.

Both have relationships that come and go and Charlie’s family undergoes major changes. This time the two stay in touch. Their third summer comes around. Charlie’s father depends on Charlie more than ever and her free time is scarce. Nate is sweet and caring and honest.

“What is it about stars that you love so much?” he asks. That answer comes quickly. “Because they’re infinite. They’re miracles, and anything is possible when you look out into the massive space that goes on and on.” Because I want that. I want to explore and see what’s out there and feel as free as those stars in the sky.

Their relationship evolves and matures and deepens. Both recognize that their feelings have long ago passed the friendship stage. Charlie happens upon something, seeing something she should never have seen and impulsively make a decision that will change lives.

Both go their separate ways, now seniors in high school. Nate pretends to himself that he is over Charlie, and that she has no place in his life anymore. That is until Charlie contacts him and lets him know she is in New York, his state, his town. Can he see her again, can he get the answers he needs, can he forgive?

Dawn has written a beautiful novel that sweeps us along with Charlie and Nate’s journey.  It is a wonderful thing seeing their relationship mature and survive and even thrive as they leave their childhoods behind and make rational decisions and assume responsibility for their actions and those they have come to love and protect. This is a sweet, endearing book which was a pleasure to read.

Received an ARC in exchange for an honest review

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