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Cruel Summer


Cruel Summer

Who wouldn’t want to spend a summer in Greece? Colby Cavendish most definitely does not. The summer before her senior year, she is banished to a tiny island with her “crazy Aunt Tally” while her parents sort out their divorce. 

This was going to be her best summer yet. Colby had been working for a long time to get into the elite popular circle by befriending Amanda. She even dropped Natalie, her best friend since second grade. The night before she leaves for Tinos, Colby connects with Levi, the guy every girl wants. Everything set the stage for what should have been the best senior year anyone has ever had.

But now she is on Tinos, where dirt is everywhere and she can just barely make out the city of Mykonos across the water. Her aunt seems to follow the same boring routine every day of running her shop, going to the beach and making a simple dinner with her boyfriend Tassos. Sometimes they eat things straight out of the sea.

Colby is sure life can’t get worse and is feeling a bit better when she finds an Internet café run by the stern Petros, who keeps urging her to get back out into the sun. It is beautiful on Tinos, and only a couple of hours on the beach has given Colby a lovely tan and streaks in her hair. But she keeps trying to connect with people back home so she won’t lose her popularity status.

She begins writing a blog and filling in a handwritten journal. Amanda is not returning her email, and her parents seem to be making decisions without her, such as selling their home and getting new girlfriends/boyfriends. Levi has not even sent one message, which Colby learns about from her former friend, Natalie, who has started emailing.

After a barbeque at Tally’s house, Colby meets the gorgeous Yannis, who takes her to beaches on his motorbike for mind-melting kisses and soul-connecting discussions. Things start looking up in Tinos, and an “anonymous” person is now responding to her blog.

Then she discovers that Levi and his family are taking a cruise, and she goes to meet him in Mykonos for one day, without telling Yannis. She is still worried about what will happen when she returns home and can’t decide if what is happening with Yannis is true love.

Tragedy strikes even in Tinos, and Colby learns how much the island and its people have come to mean to her. It even helps her see what is important to her at home.

The lovely descriptions of beaches and the beauty of Greece will make readers want to get plane tickets over there. Alyson Noël, author of KISS & BLOG and SAVING ZOE, does a great job in all her books of showing the fallout and hope that can come after what seems like devastating mistakes. Colby is a mess at first, and readers will feel like yelling at her for some of her choices, even while wanting to comfort her. But who wouldn’t like to rewind the clock sometimes? Not everyone has a chance to go to a beautiful island in Greece to get perspective, but anyone can try to start fresh.


Reviewed by Amy Alessio on October 18, 2011

Cruel Summer
by Alyson Noël

  • Publication Date: May 27, 2008
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
  • ISBN-10: 0312355114
  • ISBN-13: 9780312355111