Julian Winters – The Summer of Everything – Book Review: PRIDE MONTH READ!

Hi. This is Shaun. It’s June. 
That means it’s Pride Month.  
During June I’m reading books 
to celebrate everything LGBTQI+.  
I borrowed some ebooks from the 
library, along with physical books.  
this video is an ebook. It’s called The Summer of 
Everything, and it’s written by Julian Winters.  
It is a young adult novel but it’s a really 
fun novel. It’s really light-hearted. There’s  
a very sweet romance that goes on in the novel as 
well. There’s a lot of stuff that goes on and the  
characters are really positive as well, and I 
think they’re really positive characters for a  
young audience. It’s not really a book that’s a 
thriller or a mystery. It’s a book about life,  
so it’s kind of like a slice of life book 
and it’s focused on two months. So, it’s the  
last two months period in summer the group of 
friends have before they head off to college.
The main character, and the main point 
of view, is Wes. So, Wes and his friends  
have just finished high school, or most of 
his friends have just finished high school,  
and they’re going to head off to college in two 
months. They all work at the same bookstore.  
They’ve been friends for quite a while.

Wes is 
best friends with a boy called Nico. They’ve  
been friends for many years, I think 10 years 
or more. Wes has a mission during this summer.  
He wants to tell his best friend, Nico, that he 
has a crush on him that he’s in love with him.  
He doesn’t know how to do it. He’s been in love 
with his best friend for years but he’s not sure  
how to say the words. Will it hurt the friendship? 
Will Nico hate him? He’s got all these fears and  
anxiety going on. He’s a list maker. So he makes 
a list five reasons that he’s in love with Nico.  
Five reasons that Nico isn’t into him. So he 
makes a list of all these different possibilities  
and he’s always referencing that list throughout 
the book. There’s other things going on in this  
novel. The bookstore looks like it’s going 
to go under. It’s an independent bookstore,  
and independent bookstores in the city are all 
going under left, right, and centre at the moment.  
There are a few things about this bookstore 
that I don’t get. The main one is how can  
this independent bookstore, that doesn’t seem to 
be doing very well, can employ so many teenagers  
to work there? I think there’s about six teenagers 
at least that are employed to work there. Not all  
at the same time, but I think sometimes they’ve 
got three or four working there at once. And for  
a bookstore that stopped making a lot of money, 
that seems excessive and doesn’t make sense to me.  
That didn’t add up. I think it was just a way for 
the author to get all the characters to be hanging  
around each other all the time. Have them in the 
bookstore, where they’re around each other, where  
it’s central, he can focus a lot of the book on 
their interactions and their dialogue. The other  
thing I don’t get about the book story is the 
characters seem to be spending most of their time  
arguing about music. The music they’re playing 
in the store. There’s not much talk about books.  
That really fascinated me, but in a negative 
way. With his brother, he’s planning his marriage  
so we have that going on as well, and Wes gets 
roped in to help out with the wedding plans. That  
becomes quite a prominent story line actually in 
the book and I wondered if it should have been as  
big as it is. Doesn’t seem to take over the book 
at all but there are a lot of pages devoted to  
that wedding story line, and I think maybe too 
many pages. The last kind of big thing that’s  
going on in the novel is all about Wes wondering 
whether he wants to go to college or not.  
So, we have a lot of introspective moments with 
Wes. It is from his point of view and the novel  
is devoted to a lot of his introspection. A lot 
of that is about his future. Does he want to go  
to college? Is he ready to go to college? Does 
he want to go to college and be away from Nico,  
away from his other friends? And he’s got 
all these fears about going to college and  
he seems to be a character that doesn’t like 
change. Doesn’t like stress. Doesn’t know how to  
cope properly in the outside world as an adult. 
That’s what it feels like in this novel. So,  
a lot of the novel is based around that. How Wes 
is coping with all the changes that are going on,  
the changes where the friends are splitting up to 
go to college, the bookstore is closing down. The  
bookstore was a big part of his life. The changes 
with his brother getting married. The changes with  
Nico potentially not liking him and not wanting 
to be his friend anymore if things don’t go right.  
So, it’s all these changes and fears in his life 
that do become a prominent feature in this plot  
and they do move the plot forward. They become a 
bit of a plot device. The other thing about this  
plot is that sometimes it did get a little 
bit boring. I mean, there is at least one  
chapter that’s just about Wes walking around and 
sitting down and doing nothing much at all. So,  
I found that a bit of a waste of time really. 
It was a page filler and there are a couple of  
moments where that happens, so I think that the 
author was either stretched a bit trying to get  
more pages in the book or he just didn’t know 
how to drive certain parts of the plot forward,  
and he just was fumbling around a little 
bit. So, I’m not sure what happened in  
those sections but they did slow down the story 
a bit and it didn’t add anything to the story.
Wes is our main character. He’s got a big heart. 
So, the character seems quite generous and quite  
giving. He seems to like his friends and enjoy 
his friends and enjoy having them around him.  
On the other hand, he comes across as a character 
that doesn’t like change, doesn’t like stress,  
doesn’t know how to cope with change. He seems to 
be immature at times and I’m not sure if that’s  
intended in the book by the author. That’s how 
it comes across. There are some moments where he  
just has a meltdown about things. When external 
pressures become too much he’s not sure how to  
deal with them like an adult may deal with them, 
so I found that interesting in this character,  
that out of all the kids his age and 
even younger, a year younger or so,  
Wes seems to be the least 
likely to be able to cope  
with external pressures in his life and 
characters that are younger than him  
cope a lot better. Nico is Wes’ best friend and, 
of course, the person that Wes has a crush on.  
Nico seems to be a bit more well developed. I 
like his backstory and I like how his backstory  
drives what he wants to do, what that character 
wants to do with his motivations for his future.  
That was cleverly done and it made the character 
feel really lifelike and really complete. I think  
Nico comes across as a better character in the 
book, more centred and more focused. He does have  
his fun side. He has his serious side, and he has 
these moments where he gets a bit annoyed at Wes,  
sometimes for good reason, and I think that 
overall even though the book is about Wes  
and about Wes coping with life and we’ve got the 
whole POV of Wes going on throughout the book,  
I kind of liked Nico a little bit better than Wes. 
And I think that’s not the intention of the book,  
although I’m pretty sure it’s not 
considering Wes is the main character,  
but for me Nico is a better character in this 
story. The last character I’ll mention is Ella.  
Ella is vibrant, fun, a huge personality in this 
book. Unfortunately, she’s also a character that  
can push people to the edge. She doesn’t know how 
to temper her own energy. She doesn’t know when  
to stop. But she has the most character growth, I 
felt, in this book. At the very start she’s very  
self-centered, it comes across. All about her 
and her wants and her happiness. But as the novel  
progresses that changes a bit. As you get towards 
the end she does a 180 almost and she becomes  
more of a giving and caring character, so I 
think she had the most character growth in the  
novel and of all the characters. And I don’t 
know if that’s the intention of this author  
to do that. That’s how it came across. I 
do like Ella. She is a standout character.
Even though I did enjoy this 
book, it’s not a fantastic book.  
It’s not a great book. It’s just above average. 
I rate it a three out of five. I thought it was  
clever to have a book that’s just a slice 
of life book. There’s no action. It’s not a  
thriller. It’s not a mystery. And I think some 
of the characters are really special as well,  
and the characters are really positive for 
young people to relate to when they’re reading  
this book. I do review other young adult 
novels on my channel. Check out my channel  
and subscribe. Also check out my young adult 
playlist. It should be on your screen now.

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