The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi

The Summer I Wasn't MeThe Summer I Wasn't Me by Jessica Verdi
Published by: Sourcebooks Fire on April 1, 2014
Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, Religion
Pages: 352
Source: NetGalley
Book Details
Rating: ★★★★½

Lexi has a secret…

Ever since her mom found out she was in love with a girl, seventeen-year-old Lexi’s afraid that what’s left of her family is going to fall apart for good.

You are on the road to truth. Help is on the way.

The road signs leading to New Horizons summer camp promise a new life for Lexi—she swears she can change. She can learn to like boys. But denying her feelings is harder than she thinks. And when she falls heads over heels for one of her fellow campers, Lexi will have to risk her mother’s approval for the one person who might love her no matter what.

I’m still trying to fully absorb this book. Normally I write my reviews immediately after I finish reading, but not with The Summer I Wasn’t Me. This book was so powerful, so intense, so horrifying, that I had to sit and absorb it all before I could put some words together. And I still don’t feel like I’m ready to do that, but I had to get started, so here we go!

The Summer I Wasn’t Me is a curious book, because there are certain elements of it that I hated, but you’re meant to hate them, so that didn’t make me hate the book. The story is all about Lexi going to a camp to learn how to not be gay. That’s absurd, right? Totally ridiculous! The camp is one of the most disgusting and terrible things I’ve ever read about.. which is the intent. Some of the things that go on there will shock you.

New Horizons isn’t all about turning gays straight. It’s also about laying out gender roles and ensuring that people stick within those roles. So men play sports and fix things around the house, whereas women cook, do laundry, and wear pink feminine clothing.

“What is the role of a woman?” she asks.
“The role of a woman is exactly the same as anyone else’s,” I say with a shrug. “To live and learn and love and be happy.”
The counselor just clears her throat and repeats her quesetion. “What is the role of a woman?”
Clearly this isn’t a very feminist bunch. I sigh and repeat my last answer, since that seemed to work last time. “To have children.”

The camp had the balls to tell Lexi that the reason she’s gay is because her parents set a bad example. Her father acted like her friend instead of the disciplinary figure of the household, and that’s unacceptable. Her mother wore casual clothes and worked out of the home, and that’s unacceptable. Her parents set bad examples and caused Lexi to misinterpret gender roles, which is why she’s now gay. WHAT THE BLOODY HELL! It was so infuriating! And the parts that come after… so many devastating feels.

“The only reason I’m even at New Horizons is to fix my family. And now Mr. Martin is saying that for the de-gayifying to work, I have to reject everything that my family was and is. So what, then, is the point of all this?”

I think this is the reason why the book is so hard to “review”. This book is so sad, frustrating, aggravating, and horrifying, but not in the bad “I hate this book” kind of way. It’s all those things in the “powerful” kind of way; the way that will shock and stun you as you read it. But that kind of feeling and reaction cannot possibly be put into words! It has to be experienced for yourself.

The best part of this book came as a surprise to me. At first, Lexi was open to the idea of “de-gaying”. Initially, I was mad. I wanted Lexi to be firmly against this because the whole idea is just absurd! But she tried to go in with an open mind. But I think that ended up making the story even more powerful. She was able to discover for herself how ridiculous and impossible it was, and we got to be with her for the journey.

But that was one of the reasons I loved Matthew. He filled the “rebel against the idea of the camp” role that I needed. So although Lexi wasn’t exactly rebelling, Matthew was, and that satisfied me. He was also one of my favourite characters just because of how damn fun and sweet he was!

The love story in The Summer I Wasn’t Me was sooo sweet! It was soft and tender and totally slow-brewing. It was everything I hoped it would be, and it completely captured my heart! I was so eager and giddy, and maybe the “forbidden” aspect made it even more fun!

If I had one criticism, it would be that I wish the end was a tad more drawn out. There are some intense things that happen towards the end, and it’s implied that people will face the consequences of their actions, but we never actually get to see it first hand. I think I would have been a bit more satisfied if I actually got to see those consequences for myself. View Spoiler »

But this book will make you FEEL. It may even make you sob uncontrollably. But most importantly, I think it will shock you. It will shock you into wondering if the “de-gaying” camps that exist are truly like this.. and if they are, it will make you want to do something about it. Because holy shit, it’d DISGUSTING! It will anger you to no end! And I love that The Summer I Wasn’t Me pulled all these crazy emotions out of me. It made me love and hate and get pissed and want to cry happy tears! ALL OF THE EMOTIONS HAPPENED!

Jessica Verdi rocked my world again with this one. She’s definitely on my auto-buy list.

The Verdict


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  1. Definitely excited to read this one now! I wasn’t sure if I wanted to because I’ve seen some meh reviews as well. Going to read this in April (shameless plug for LGBT Month) if I can! Must get ready for some extreme deepness. Amazing review Ashley!

    Laura Plus Books recently posted: Discussion: LGBT+ YA Covers
  2. It’s been a while I didn’t want to read a book even before it’s on the bookstore shelves… Since Harry Potter actually.
    Anyway, I’ll read this one. I love the title (might be silly…) and the subject seems very very interesting.
    By the way, if you didn’t play the exploration game “Gone Home”, it seems to feel similar in some way to this novel. Well at least in the struggle of a family and of a teenage being gay and not accepted as such.

  3. You already know how I felt about the book. It was beautiful and heartbreaking and just so amazing.It had the horrifying element and in a couple cases I had to put the book down and just walk away for a bit. It was emotional for me. Like you, the only issue I had was with the ending. It felt unfinished to me.I wanted more resolution. The ending was the only reason I didn’t give the book 5 stars. It got 4.5 though.

    Alexia @ Adventures in Reading recently posted: Did Not Finish (DNF)
  4. I’m actually pretty sure de-gaying camps exist because I remember there are some run by Christians who try to “reverse” the process which is so disgusting. And also I agree, the whole treatment of gays in the book was so gross and I think I enjoyed this slightly less than you just because I was really mad that Lexi didn’t even blink when she heard such misogynistic ideals being fed to her. But fantastic review, Ashley, glad you loved this one 😀

    Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain recently posted: Life of a Blogger (8): Traveling
  5. I’m really, really looking forward to read this one so I’m really glad to hear that you loved it, Ashley! That camp does sound pretty horrifying, but I hope they make it out of it without too many scars… Anyway, I’ll prepare for the FEELs.
    And that first quote!! No, just no.


    Cayce recently posted: [LGBT Month] 10 days and counting!

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