Cousins and Creepy-Crawlies: My Not Our Summer Review

What if you could go on an all expenses paid vacation, but you had to go with someone you hate? That's a question the protagonists of Casie Bazay's debut YA novel Not Our Summer have to ask themselves ... and the results are heartwarming if not completely without incident. Let's get into it!

Book Title: Not Our Summer
Author: Casie Bazay
Publisher/Year: Running Press Kids/Hachette, 2021
Genre: Contemporary
Number of Pages (According to Goodreads): 288
My Rating: 4 out of 5

Book description (from Goodreads):

Five trips, two cousins, one family feud, and a summer that will change their lives forever.

It's bad enough that estranged cousins Becka and KJ see each other at their grandfather's funeral, but when he leaves them a bucket list of places to visit together over the summer, so they can earn their inheritance, it seems like things are about to get much worse.

However, with each trip the cousins complete -- like riding mules into the Grand Canyon or encountering a bear and a hot tour guide at Yellowstone -- they steadily learn about and begin to trust one another. That is until the truth behind Grandpa's bucket list, and their family feud, is revealed, testing Becka and KJ far beyond their limits.

Will they find a way to accept each other or will their grandpa's wish to mend his divided family end up buried alongside him inside his grasshopper green casket?

Let's Focus On Family

As much as I love a good romance, there’s a lack of YA that focuses on non-romantic relationships, so if you’re looking for one of those then this book is for you! I loved seeing KJ and Becka develop their relationship throughout the story — and even though there are some smatterings of romance (*cough* hot tour guide *cough*), the focus is firmly on family.

I especially liked KJ, because I'm a sucker for prickly female characters who develop a soft side. But Becka was interesting to read about in her own way, and it was really cool to see two complete opposites come together in harmony <3 (kind of ...)

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted

The travels the cousins go on are super fun, and after a year of being in a global panini, it was really cathartic to read about! I’m also a sucker for a Southern setting — the girls live in Arkansas and Oklahoma, and as a Texas resident there was a lot of stuff I found familiar in the story. It felt comforting, like eating a huge plate of homemade mac and cheese with green beans on the side.

Plot wise, this is definitely a book that’s on the quieter side, where the stakes are more intimate and personal. So while I kind of wish there was a little more action, it was a refreshing break from my usual high fantasy fare. For what it's worth, I did read it in a day, so clearly it kept me turning pages, and there was a HUGE twist that had me gasping!

Trigger and Content Warnings for Not Our Summer

This book may not be for you if you're sensitive to discussions/depictions of death of a family member.

Final Thoughts

This was a pretty cute standalone that I would recommend to anyone looking for a family-centric YA book. I'm excited to see what the author comes out with next!

Thanks to Running Press/Hachette for the ebook review copy! Not Our Summer is now available everywhere, so check out the links below if you want to snag your own copy:

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