After Summer Ends

Genres: Romance; LGBTQ
Pages: 264
Published: September 24th, 2015

Description:

This is a sweet lesbian romance, not erotica. It contains sensitive themes such as adoption, sexual assault, and gay marriage. This is an adult content book.

My name is Willow Erwin, and I hate summer. My mother always said hate is a strong word, but in this case, it’s the right one. I haven’t found one good thing about the season. Most people tell me since I’m a teacher that reason alone should make it my favorite season, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. For me, summer brings everything I abhor; bugs, heat, sweating, and painful memories of a woman I will never see again.

Then, in the wink of one very beautiful blue eye, all of that changed. This is the story of Summer and how she taught me to love her. It’s about her quiet, and sometimes fearful, way of teaching me to embrace the moment, and to live recklessly. It’s about how both of us learned to forgive, to hope, to pray, and to love, even after summer ends.

I have not rated this because I didn’t finish it, but I wanted to talk about it a bit to explain why.

I requested this from Netgalley because it sounded interesting, and I haven’t read much non-erotic lesbian fiction, so I was curious. I ended up giving up on it at 15% because I just couldn’t make it through the book and I was afraid that if I kept forcing myself, I would end up writing a ranting review.

When I started this, I loved the first page and thought it was going to be a wonderful book. That was where the love ended, unfortunately. I know I have a galley copy, so maybe it’s been edited more, but there were some formatting issues, typos, and a lot of repetition in what I read. (I counted the word “sigh” 3 times on the screen of my kindle in just a couple of paragraphs, for example.) There was a lot of telling, instead of showing. There was a lot of dialogue that didn’t really lead anywhere or help with learning about the characters.

There were way too many issues crammed into the first 15% of the book (roughly 40 pages), and it was not only overwhelming, but it also made it difficult to actually care and feel for the characters, at least for me. The main character, Willow, is gay and in the closet, dealing with dwarfism and arthritis (associated with the dwarfism), and she lost her parents at a pretty young age. Other issues that have come up include adoption of special needs half Chippewa twin babies by Willow’s brother and sister-in-law (the SIL is also half Chippewa), the SIL has alopecia and vitiligo, someone else had a baby and apparently they’re not doing so great, etc. I still don’t even know who some of these characters are because there were just way too many names to keep track of, and not enough explanation to help them stand out as individual characters.

I was a little shocked to find out that this isn’t a debut novel because of the way it’s written. It reads like some indie debuts I’ve read in the past, so I assumed that’s what it was until I came across a review that mentioned the author’s previous books.

I think this story could be really great, but there’s too much going on and I think it could use a bit of editing. I applaud the author’s efforts to include more diverse characters and address issues, but there were too many things happening with too many people for it to work. We need more diverse books, but putting so many in the beginning of one story doesn’t do any of them justice. It was a nice idea, though.

I hate hate hate writing bad reviews and not finishing a book, but I just can’t do this. I have been trying for almost two weeks to make it through this book, but I have to keep flipping back several pages to try to figure out who people are and what’s going on. I wanted to like this, but it did not work for me, unfortunately.

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