- The Last Summer of the Garrett Girls by Jessica Spotswood
Paper ed. ISBN 978-1-4926-2219-2 $10.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 9-12
Each of the four orphaned Garrett sisters is facing a challenging summer. With Gram on the mend from knee surgery, nineteen-year-old Des feels like Cinderella, overworked at the family’s bookstore and at home, wondering whether her decision not to go to art school has condemned her to a boring life. Next oldest Bea is second-guessing the future she planned with her boyfriend, Erik, when they were thirteen, especially since a new guy has come to town and turned her head. High school junior Kat is furious that her boyfriend cheated on her, as is her hot friend, Mason, so they decide to pretend-date to make their guys jealous, only maybe it isn’t all pretend, and maybe they don’t want their old boyfriends back anyway. Youngest sister Vi, an apparently confident lesbian and fanfic writer, is still not confident enough to approach her crush or tell anyone she knows in real life about her fics. Each of these option-exploring, expectation-challenging girls is an ardent feminist according to their many T-shirt slogans, as well as being woke in all other ways. When Vi finally does befriend the girl who has her heart, for instance, the two young teens discuss intersectionality and microaggressions over fancy coffee drinks, while Kat and Mason transform the local cat café into a stylish hipster hangout and animal adoption agency, complete with cupcakes and a chalkboard selfie wall. While the narrative elements are programmatic in this way, the overall effect is highly readable, and the book delivers exactly what its elevator pitch claims for it: “Little Women meets Gilmore Girls by way of Sarah Dessen.” Fans of any of those are thus the audience for this.