Reviewed by Sara Padilla

What a delightful read! Sharon Greenland’s The Summer My Life Began tells the story of seventeen-year-old Em, a bright, motivated and curious young woman with big plans. After high school graduation, she is expected to intern at a prestigious law firm before heading on to a highly regarded university where she will study for four years before law school. Following law school, Em is certain to secure a place in a conservative world that models the one in which she grew up: strict and serious. Fortunately, a hand-written note from a mysterious aunt arrives just in time for Em to spend a month away from her authoritarian parents at the seaside, living and exploring a whole new world.

This engaging tale explores themes common to adolescence. These include family secrets, romance, friendships and self-reliance. When Em discovers something kept hidden from her for many years, she must ask herself tough questions about the direction in which she wants her life to go. The brief freedom she experiences while living with her peculiar and loving aunt allows her to think about life very differently, and suddenly those parental expectations don’t seem to make much sense.

The author keeps us guessing as Em navigates new friendships and a budding romance as well as speaks to serious issues such as parental abandonment and uncertain destiny. It’s a story that moves quickly and would be a perfect read for readers in their teens as well as well as those adults who appreciate a summer time adventure.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

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Ms. Sara Padilla is a freelance writer and maintains a personal blog on family, health and wellness. She resides in the Pacific Northwest.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by JKS Communications. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.