There is so much to love about this book, it’s like a more down to Earth Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants set on the Devon coast, a tale of friendship, heartbreak, taking risks and grasping moments with both hands, even if it’s scary and hurts.
I adored this book and devoured it in an afternoon. It’s such a wonderful, heartfelt and hopeful story and I would love to see more from Kate Mallinder, and if more of these girls that would be great.
After a tearful piece of advice from Hetal’s Nani on making sure they live a life of no regrets, the four friends decide to live a summer of no regrets even if it’s scary.
Hetal is off to a prestigious invite-only Science Camp and is terrified of not coping away from home and her friends. To make things worse a boy called Finn infuriates Hetal when her cautious attitude loses her the chance to win daily trophy.
Through Hetal we explore imposter syndrome and how intelligent girls sometimes limit themselves out of fear or overcautiousness and how it takes bravery to challenge ourselves and feel like we deserve to take up room.
Sasha is off to Geneva with her estranged father, she has ideas of Instagram worthy sightseeing, the most fashionable clothes and handsome Swiss boys, what she doesn’t expect is her dad’s super-young girlfriend to hijack the trip.
Sasha is loud, flirty but more insecure than she lets on, and we realise that she is far less accomplished femme fatale than she likes to let on. She may feel she looks good in shorts and flip flops but compares herself as lacking to her father’s youthful and impeccably dressed French girlfriend. Her brashness betrays a vulnerability of being replaced and forgotten- and we hope to see her take a journey to realise her worth isn’t related to her attractiveness.
Cam is stuck in her foster parents’ hardware shop for the summer, but it’s money and she’s actually quite good at it, but she worries how long it will last and whether they will want to keep her, or even know her once she turns 18 and no longer in the care system. When she finally Googles the name she’s kept secret since before her mother died she finds that her father lives less than an hour away and she has to decide whether to get in contact, and how.
The Foster child story is one that often focuses on the novelty or how awful it is in a new situation but doesn’t always look at the end of the journey. Children in care are amongst the most vulnerable in society for slipping through the gaps especially when aging out of the system. Cam is terrified that John and Jackie don’t even want to keep her beyond the summer let alone until she is 18. With young adulthood she’s concerned whether she will face a future struggling alone which is why curiosity about her father finally gets the best of her and the emotional weight that carries.
There’s some beautiful, tender and heartwarming movements throughout Cam’s journey that give so much hope.
Nell is struggling a year on from a devastating accident that cost her an arm, but that’s nothing compared to the pressure of her mother terrified to let her go anywhere or do anything. Nell just wants some independence and her friends, but is it worth the stress?
Whilst the accident is gut-wrenchingly awful and I can empathise wholly with the painful anxiety of the mother, I equally am angry for Nell who has spent a year almost locked away in her mothers fear and guilt at the time when she needs to gain confidence in her new form. Whenever she tries to snatch independence it’s with a price tag of guilt and judgement which is inevitably going to have a terrible cost.
‘Live your life. Grab it. Seize opportunities when they come along, otherwise you’ll end up old women with hearts full of regrets.’
It does certainly have flavours of The Sisterhood Of The Travelling Pants but in a much more British and less sex and depending on death to propel the plot way!! There is kissing but it is not explicit.
The friendship and interdependence remains at the heart of the book but the shifting perspectives and relative isolation of the summer they initially planned to spend together brings growth to the girls as they learn who they are outside of this definition too.
The final chapters are truly wonderful and emotional but not at all in a saccharine way, there is a feeling of a circle being completed whilst doors left open for future instalments (yes please Firefly Press!!!)
It’s a wonderful book to spend a dreamy warm afternoon with, to open our eyes to the attitudes and prejudices that may hold us back from living like the girls, without regret.
The Summer Of No Regrets by Kate Mallinder is published by Firefly Press