Since these two books are from the same author and I’ve already reviewed My Name is Memory, I figured I’d go ahead and post about them together, and share an abbreviated review of My Name Is Memory with you all and review The Last Summer (of You & Me) for the first time. I began reading Ann Brashare’s novels when I was in middle school and picked up The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants series. I was addicted. I loved the way she wrote, and how deeply she allows you to get to know her characters.
The Last Summer (of You & Me)
When I saw that she was coming out with a new book for adults, I knew I had to read it. I read The Last Summer (of You & Me) in one day, barely stopping to eat, drink, and so on. I was sobbing by the end of the book, and to this day it’s a story that stays with me because of the beauty of it and how wonderfully it was written. The Last Summer is about sisters Alice and Riley, and how they’ve spent every summer of their lives at their beach house on Fire Island. During the other 9 months of the year, they live in nearby Manhattan with their parents. Alice is the smart, responsible, good girly girl, with plans to attend law school at NYU while her sister Riley is a bit more of a tomboy, athletic, wild child whose dyslexia makes school difficult for her. Riley has always been the braver of the two sisters, she has even served as a lifeguard every summer since she turned 15. The main thing they have in common is their shared best friend Paul who lives in his beach house mansion next door with his widowed mother. Alice has always been somewhat jealous of Riley and Paul’s relationship because they are tried and true best friends, telling each other everything. Alice has always had a crush on Paul, but has never acted on it, and she suspects he will never feel the same about her. The three of them spend their summer as they usually do, but things start to shift as Paul begins to express his feelings for Alice that are much deeper than those of friendship. Just as Alice and Paul begin to explore their romantic feelings for each other, tragedy strikes, tearing them apart. Alice, Riley, and Paul’s lives are turned upside down and their bonds with one another are tested to the brink of being broken as they are forced to confront the fact that their lives will never be the same. As their lives continue to unravel, they have to deal with precarious love, loyalty, friendship, guilt, grief, the bond between sisters, and the devastating effect our actions can have on those around us.
My Name Is Memory
Daniel has what is called”The Memory” that allows him to remember every detail of his former lives. Starting with his first life during the dawn of civilization, an encounter with a young girl effects him greatly, never forgetting the image of her as she was killed by the fire set to her home and village by Daniel and his brother along with their army of men. He meets her as a woman named Sophia in their next life, knowing who she is immediately despite the fact that her appearance changes with each new life. The two of them fall madly in love with each other but are unable to be together due to unfortunate circumstances. His love for her is so strong that he spends each new lifetime obsessively searching for her and trying to make her fall in love with him again. In his current life, she is now Lucy, a senior whose high school he also attends to be near her. He attempts building up enough courage to talk to her and try to get her to believe who he really is and who she is to him, but can never seem to go through with it. Lucy doesn’t know much about Daniel, the mysterious new kid in school, but she is inexplicably drawn to him and has a huge crush on him. Both too shy to talk to each other, neither makes a move, but a chance meeting at a dance after graduation leaves them alone together and they’re finally able to connect to each other only to be ripped apart again. Daniel continues about his life, still determined to one day be with his beloved and Lucy is never able to shake the feelings that night with him had elicited. She begins to have strange dreams that lead her to try and seek answers about what her dreams represent, leading her back to Daniel again. However, things become dangerous when another man with the memory begins to hunt them down and they risk their lives to be with each other, determined to never be torn apart again no matter what it costs them. They fight for their love, even though it seems as though the world is against them, leaving them wondering if they’ll ever be able to be together and happy.
Both of these books, The Last Summer (Of You & Me) and My Name Is Memory are beautiful and unique love stories, especially My Name Is Memory. The love story in that book literally spans centuries, and the main characters share an intertwined destiny. One of my favorite quotes from the book is from Daniel to Sophia/Lucy: “It’s you who makes me a person.”
Ann Brashares is truly a master story-teller and both of these books move you, finding yourself deeply invested in the characters’ journey. She weaves tales of true love and how it can change us by becoming more emboldened and foolishly optimistic even when the odds are against you. Her characters are always well written and her poetic style takes us on an entertaining and magical journey to the places and times she writes about with the characters we get to know better with each page.
It is authors like Ann Brashares that have fostered my love of reading, story-telling, and writing. She’s truly an incredible author, who I believe is terribly underrated. If you know her only as the author of The Sisterhood of The Traveling Pants series that spawned a movie and a sequel, I strongly encourage you to pick up one of her other books such as the two I’ve named here and also her most recent release, “The Here And Now.”
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