Tuesday, 20 September 2016

'The Summer Before Forever' by Melissa Chambers

Image result for the summer before forever melissa chambers
*This review will contain spoilers!*

First things first, I need to thank Entangled Teen for accepting my request to view this title on NetGalley, and to NetGalley for the service that they provide. 

'It's not like I didn't know better. How many times has it been drilled into my brain - into the brain of every child over the age of three. Don't get into a car with a stranger.'
I got a very bad feeling from this first sentence, which made me wonder if the adorable summer image on the cover was just a little misleading...

Chloe's finally going to meet her soon-to-be stepmom, and the boy that'll become her brother. Taking her best friend Jenna along for moral support, she can't wait to escape for the summer, even if her relationship with her father has always been strained.
Days before they left, Chloe was attacked by Trevor - the boy she'd been crushing on for years - and he nearly raped her. Understandably that makes her feel uncomfortable around men, and when she first meets Landon she's surprised to find that he puts her at ease. Yes, she freaks out around his friends, but being in his company settles her down. She's not afraid when she's with him.
Landon can't believe his luck: he finally finds a girl worth dating, and she's going to be his sister?! His mother warned him not to even think about making moves on the girls, but he can't get her out of his head. When he finds out about Trevor he feels like a massive sleaze - she's terrified of boys, and all he can think about when he's with her is what it would be like to make out with her - but something draws him to her, and it's uncontrollable.
As they grow closer over the summer, it's only a matter of time before they can't deny their feelings any longer. Sneaking kisses when their parents' backs are turned, they're playing a very dangerous game, and it's only a matter of time before they'll get caught and sentenced to never see each other again.
But with Landon hiding a huge secret from Chloe, does their relationship have a chance, or is it doomed before it truly begins?

I was torn between giving this book three and four stars.
I wanted to love it more than I did, but it was another case of waffling contemporary syndrome. It could have been so much shorter. I found my attention drifting, because it was so obvious that they were going to end up together, and the will-they-won't-they fake tension was yawn-worthy. I don't often abandon a book halfway through, but I actually left this one alone for nearly a week before I could summer up the energy to finish it.
However, despite the fact that it needed trimming down, the things that were included were done very well.
I loved the inclusion of dyscalculia. I was vaguely aware that there was a mathematical version of dyslexia out there, but I'd never seen it in the spotlight before. Reading Landon's struggle as he juggled his excellent English grades with his constant failure in maths, the turmoil he experienced when certain his dream career was out of his reach because of his learning difficulties, was both endearing and heartbreaking. He hates being pitied, but you can't help it: he's such a decent, well-mannered and caring character that you yearn to see him overcome the hurdles in his way.
I also really appreciated the fact that Chloe was brave enough to talk about Trevor, and what he attempted to do to her. Whereas some characters are raped and don't come forward because they're scared of the repercussions, Chloe knew that there was a victim out there who needed supporting. Luckily she wasn't raped, managing to get away from her attacker and get help, but that makes her choice seem even braver: prosecution levels aren't high, and some people would gloss over the fact that they'd nearly experienced something like that, pretending it hadn't happened.
I liked the focus on music, as it's something I'm also very passionate about, and the song titles sprinkled throughout helped you get into Chloe's mindset as she experienced her very first summer of love.
Yes, the romance was cliched, but that's what I'd been expecting going in: sometimes you can judge a book by its cover. It was obvious that there was going to be a happy ending, so I wasn't surprised in the slightest when everything worked out perfectly: it was a cute read.

I should have waited until I was in a more contemporary romance mood before I read this one. It was exactly what I was expecting, but it felt decidedly average: I might have enjoyed it more if I'd held on until I was craving something mushy and romantic.
If you enjoy vaguely forbidden romances (they're soon to be step-siblings, but they aren't actually related!) you'll definitely enjoy this novel.
Because music means a lot to Chloe, Melissa included a playlist at the end of the book featuring all of the songs that Chloe listened to throughout the story. I've made a Youtube playlist of all of the songs, so if you're not sure whether it's a book you'd enjoy you can listen to the music and let that help you decide.

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