Always on the chase for my next book to read for myself and/or for my book clubs (yes, plural book clubs!), I enjoy discovering new authors as well as delving into favorites. Recently, a Lisa, a friend, voracious reader, and book club member, told me about Not Our Summer by Casie Bazay. Bazay lives in OK and has published her first YA novel. Immediately, I was interested in reading Not Our Summer.
The story centers on KJ and Becka, two female cousins, who barely know one another and certainly do not like one another. Their mothers are sisters who also do not speak to one another. Then the girls’ maternal grandfather dies and leaves an unusual request in his will. In order to inherit money for college for KJ and Becka, both high school seniors, and money for both of his daughters, Jackie and RaeLynn, KJ and Becka must complete five trips TOGETHER.
Grandpa has pre-arranged all of the five trips with everything paid in advance along with giving the girls credit cards loaded with a certain amount of money for incidentals. He has also arranged for KJ to have a car of her own, especially necessary for two of the trips.
The trips are from grandpa’s bucket list of trips he did not get to make. Of course, he also has an ulterior motive of wanting his two granddaughters to discover common ground and like one another. The trips include the following: riding mules down into the Grand Canyon, hiking at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, white water rafting in Georgia, snorkeling at Key West, and competing in a rodeo competition.
To be candid, the first two trips make little headway in creating any kind of relationship between KJ and Becka. They maintain distance as much as they can. At some point during or after each trip, they receive a letter their grandfather has written them explaining why he has arranged this particular trip and offering his continued hope that the girls will bond and become friends.
Grandpa’s letter to the girls after the snorkeling trip reveals a family secret so damaging that all the goodwill between KJ and Becka disappears, mostly due to KJ’s feeling that her mother has betrayed her all her life by keeping the secret from her. Becka, too, is devastated by the news, but she handles it better than KJ does. As a result of the secret laid bare, KJ insists she will not fulfill the last wish of competing at the rodeo. If she does not complete the last request, Becka, KJ, Jackie, and RaeLynn all lose the money, $350,494, from grandpa; it will go instead to the Arkansas Amateur Entomological Association.
Dear readers, at this point, I am sure you have several questions. The first one is what is the big family secret? The next one is will KJ stop the inheritance for all four of the females in the family? Of course, readers, you must read Not Our Summer in order to discover the truth.
Not Our Summer provides readers with enough mystery to keep them interested. The characters are also solid and, I predict, readers will favor one cousin over the other—until perhaps the end.
Casie Bazay, https://casiebazay.com/, has been a middle school teacher; she left teaching to become a stay-at-home mom and became a freelance writer and editor. Not Our Summer is her debut novel.