Three Day Summer, Sarvenaz Tash, Simon & Schuster, out now.
[I received this book from Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review, this did not affect my opinion of the book whatsoever.]
Sex, drugs, rock & roll, baby. That’s what’s on the minds of teenagers Michael and Cora, strangers brought together on the fields of Woodstock.
Michael’s too scared to break up with his gorgeous-yet-verbally abusive girlfriend Amanda. The couple and their friends pile into a car and head to the biggest music festival of their lives with little food and lotta drugs. Michael’s got a lot on his mind – wanting to avoid being drafted into the army, parental problems, Amanda – but he just wants to have a mind-blowing, fun experience and get away from everything.
Cora, still reeling from her first love breakup even though the guy’s still around, lives near the fields where the festival is held. She’s yearning to move up in the medical world as a doctor, and she needs a distraction from the breakup, so she’s volunteering as a candy striper in the medical tent at the festival. Since it’s Woodstock, it doesn’t take long for Michael to end up at her feet on a bad acid trip, his friends ditching him without a care. Cora is charmed by Michael, and vice versa.
Two enormous brown eyes are staring into mine. Thick lashes frame them. They look like feathers. Wait, no. They are feathers. They are the brown circular orbs found in peacock feathers. And now they are multiplying. There were two, now four. Only this bird is red and white, with thin stripes like rivulets of deep red blood going through every feather.
Her plumage is fanning out, so many eyes and rivers. It’s impossible for it to be contained.
“Tell me about your family, Michael.”
Oh my God. She knows my name. This beautiful, rare bird is talking to me.
I have to do it. Very softly, I reach out and touch one of the feathers. It’s like silk.
So they have three days of this festival to go. They don’t think they’ll spend it together – why would they? Michael has to find his friends and girlfriend, and Cora should be volunteering and getting home on time so her father doesn’t send out a search team.
It took me a little while to get into Three Day Summer, as I don’t normally like reading slightly historical fiction (taking something that happened but putting fiction all around it, for some reason I can’t get it!) but once I did, I was into it. It’s adorable and easy reading. Three Day Summer uses swapping perspective chapters – Cora, Michael, Cora, Michael – and they go really quickly, chapters often being only a few pages. This seems to be a common form for YA books, which I don’t mind.
There’s also a lot to this book that I found to be quite progressive for YA – usually there are real-world kinds of topics like sex, drugs and rock & roll in the genre, but Tash really did take it to the ’60s vibe. Tash tackles sexuality, drugs, race, the societal pressure on teens in the 60s and sexism in a mature way. Through such, I found that Cora’s story is more interesting, but Michael’s a more charming character.
“So what do you really like to do, Cora?” He grasps his beer glass in both hands, his head cocked, looking at me intently across it. “In your spare time?”
I eye him. “Honestly?” I ask, and he nods. “I don’t really have much spare time. I’m either at school or helping out at my farm. And the rest of the time, I’m volunteering at the hospital.” He’s looking at me quizzically and I wonder if he’s thinking about how boring that sounds. If that’s the case, I might as well go all in and admit it. “But actually, I find that really fun. My work at the hospital. I just … love it. Does that sound completely insane?” I look down into my own beer glass, and see the strings from my candy striper apron dangling near the floor through the bottom.
“Insane? Um, no. Impressive? Hell, yes.” When I look up, Michael is beaming at me.
There are a lot of sweet moments where they bond over music – from Janis Joplin to The Who – which is really at the base of the story. Tash must have done a lot of research about the festival, always mentioning which band is next and having Michael talk about why each one is so fantastic and revolutionary. It’s something that opens Cora up to a new world, and opens Michael’s eyes to a future.
But obviously, a weekend can’t last forever, so what will happen?
Three Day Summer is a groovy summer romance read – for those who like music in their hearts and spontaneous adventures.
What kinds of YA stories do you like to read? What do you like to read in the summer? Have you read Three Day Summer – what did you think?