Bina, the protagonist of All Summer Long, loves listening to music and playing her guitar, but her plans for the summer consist mainly of spending time with her best friend, Austin. These plans are thrown into disarray when Austin leaves for soccer camp, leaving Bina alone to face summer boredom. She starts to sink into the inescapable spiral of binge-watching television, but her mom forces her to get out of the house, and she runs into Austin's older sister, Charlie. Bina and Charlie immediately start to befriend one another (they even like the same music), and Charlie invites Bina on trips to the local soda fountain or to the house where Charlie babysits. But nothing is perfect, and Bina struggles to enjoy her summer, especially once Austin returns from camp with a different idea of their friendship. It's up to Bina to balance her stressful friendships, her musical hobbies, a bit of family drama, and more in order to make the best of her summer.
There are so many things I love about All Summer Long! The first thing I want to mention is that Bina is one of the most realistic and most interesting protagonists I have seen in a long time. Even when she isn't with her friends, Bina still finds pleasure in listening to music (she discovers a new band at the beginning of the book and becomes obsessed) and teaching herself to play that music on her guitar. Bina is often anxious about her friendships with Austin and Charlie, but she is also comfortable with herself and her own interests. Bina's relationship with Austin is great; their connection is visible from the very first pages of the book (see a preview here), and their conflict is never overly dramatic or one-sided (you can see where both characters are coming from). Also, Bina's relationship with Charlie, who is several years older (she has a driver's license, while Bina is not even in 8th grade), seems not just plausible, but likely; it never feels forced or weird.
Another thing I love about All Summer Long is the sheer variety of the plot events. From binge-watching television to babysitting, from going to soda fountain to going to a concert, from seeing older siblings on social media to seeing them in real life, All Summer Long has it all, and its combination of idyllic summer activities and modern distractions makes the book that much more lifelike and irresistible. I also love author Hope Larson's art. Each panel of the novel uses orange as an accent color, bringing summer to mind subconsciously as you read each page. Larson's art is clean yet expressive, with detailed settings and faces that convey emotion. (See the preview linked above if you are curious.) I also love some of the more minor aspects of the novel, such as Bina's family; she truly loves her two older brothers (who have moved out), and she gets to spend time with her father and learn about her mother throughout the novel. Finally, I love that All Summer Long is nonchalantly diverse: Bina's family is biracial, one of her older brothers is adopting a child with his husband, and the child Charlie babysits (with Bina tagging along) was himself adopted. This representation is never made into a big deal, and it makes me happy that so many more books exist that are showing children through simple acceptance that they are normal.
All Summer Long is a book that I would recommend to absolutely anyone; perhaps the best praise I can give it is that I will definitely read the first of two sequels (slated for release on May 5, 2020). If I have convinced you that it is as good as I think it is, then you are in luck, because I am GIVING AWAY two copies (one of which is signed)! The rules for the giveaway are below:
- To clarify, I am giving away two copies of All Summer Long; one is signed by author Hope Larson, and one is not.
- As with all of my giveaways, enter using the Google Form below, NOT the comments.
- You must enter an email address so that I can contact you for a mailing address if you win. I will not keep or share your email address.
- Please, please, PLEASE give me an email address that you check regularly (including spam/junk), as I will choose a new winner if you do not respond within 48 hours (which I unfortunately had to do during my last giveaway).
- You must also enter a nickname for me to post on my blog if you win; it does not need to be your real name (although it can be if you want).
- The last full day to enter this giveaway is Thursday, July 4, 2019, as I will close the form the morning of Friday, July 5, 2019.
- You can only win one copy of the book, not both.
- One last thing: I know that some people love getting signed books, and I know that some may want a free book but not care if it is signed. The form asks you if you want to be entered in the signed copy giveaway (although you may still win the unsigned copy) or if you want to be entered in the unsigned copy giveaway only. Please choose the latter option if you do not particularly care about having a signed copy, so that someone who really wants the signed copy can have it!