I’d been trying to get my hands on a copy of Every Summer After since the moment I saw it become available on NetGalley. Though I don’t know the author, Carley Fortune, personally, we actually both worked at the same company at the same time and I would see her in the kitchenette from time to time—Canadian magazine publishing is a very, very small industry—and I knew she was writing a book, so I’d been keeping an eye out for it. Once I read the synopsis, though, I was even more excited, because I used to spend my summers at a cottage in Ontario (not Barry’s Bay, unfortunately) growing up, and I was hoping to capture a bit of that nostalgia as we approach summer.
They say you can never go home again, and for Persephone Fraser, ever since she made the biggest mistake of her life a decade ago, that has felt too true. Instead of glittering summers on the lakeshore of her childhood, she spends them in a stylish apartment in the city, going out with friends, and keeping everyone a safe distance from her heart.
Until she receives the call that sends her racing back to Barry’s Bay and into the orbit of Sam Florek—the man she never thought she’d have to live without.
For six summers, through hazy afternoons on the water and warm summer nights working in his family’s restaurant and curling up together with books—medical textbooks for him and work-in-progress horror short stories for her—Percy and Sam had been inseparable. Eventually, that friendship turned into something breathtakingly more, before it fell spectacularly apart.
When Percy returns to the lake for Sam’s mother’s funeral, their connection is as undeniable as it had always been. But until Percy can confront the decisions she made and the years she’s spent punishing herself for them, they’ll never know whether their love might be bigger than the biggest mistakes of their past.
Told over the course of six years and one weekend, Every Summer After is a big, sweeping nostalgic look at love and the people and choices that mark us forever.
I could not put this book down. I read it in less than a weekend, finding a few minutes here and there between parenting duties to read when I could because I was so wrapped up in the story. I loved how we got the alternating timeline of the present and the past, I love that we got bits and pieces of the full story—only to finally get the full picture when the characters both knew the full picture themselves and I love that this took place in Canada, with all its unapologetic Canadian references, so it truly felt like home (with a bit of nostalgia). Plus there were so many references to Queen’s University—my alma mater!
The characters were all beautifully developed to the point that I felt like I was spending my summers with these people, too. And though I don’t relate to the main character, Persephone, because we’re not all that much alike, I could place myself at my own cottage growing up, with the summer-only friends I met there, and it brought me back to a time when life was much more simple. I love when books with teens have realistic parent-child relationships, and I loved that Percy’s parents and the boys’ mom gave the same kind of freedom my parents did growing up—they were parents (not friends) but gave some liberties because we were good kids. And as for the “now” storytelling, the drama was also something that you could see happening, not just a silly miscommunication that could have been solved with a phone call, as a lot of stories seem to do these days.
I loved this book, and I hope that Fortune writes another one.
“I don’t take things for granted anymore. I don’t take people for granted. And I know time is not infinite.” —Carley Fortune, Every Summer After
Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Random House Canada for the advanced copy, and to April Barber on Unsplash for the featured photo.