Emma is already not looking forward to this summer. Her parents are divorced and her mother has insisted that she get to see her this summer. After moving away with her dad, to get a fresh start and focus on improving her mental health, Emma doesn’t want to go back. No matter how hard she tries she finds herself back, but her mom has other plans. Instead of staying home she learns a cruise is happening, but she isn’t invited. Her mom and a surprise new husband are going on their honeymoon and Emma is headed to a place she wants to go to even less than her mom’s house, Camp Mapplewood.
Night Owls and Summer Skies showcases Emma and her anxieties. We learn very early on that she has struggled with getting herself to a point where she feels comfortable again after experiencing a very hard period of time. Her father cares deeply about her and worked with her to help her gain her footing again and having to go back to camp is an anxiety filled nightmare. She used to go to Camp Mapplewood, but the last year she was there she found herself stranded in a tree right near a wasp nest. With this as an enduring memory as soon as she is forced to go back her plan is to get kicked out. The only thing stopping her is her counselor Vivian, who refuses to report any of her infractions. The two tease and pester each other initially, but as the summer continues they begin to share secrets and grow a relationship. Emma is gay and out and so is Vivian, which means this isn’t a teen coming out story, but rather a teen romance. Not only do we have our primary couple, but a mean girl type camper also reveals her antagonizing Emma is rooted in a secret crush.
This is honestly the perfect summer read. Rebecca Sullivan has created a story that will transport you to camp and leave you hoping you can go back every year. Her main character Emma is nuanced in that she is open about her mental health issues and through her new relationships at camp, platonic and romantic, she is able to find a way to further examine what has caused her to feel so distanced from others. The fact that the romance in this book is so easy and doesn’t focus on a coming out or someone trying to come to terms with their feelings is also a breath of fresh air. The female characters that we learn are interested in other girls don’t have to make a big deal of their feelings or explain them, they just can be interested in other girls with no one making a fuss about it. I really enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it. It is a Young Adult read that is mature in covering topics of mental health, while also giving you some light and breezy summer fun. You can pre-order your copy of Night Owls and Summer Skies today, the book releases on June 30th.
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