TRIGGER WARNINGS FOR SU*CIDE, INJURY, INJURY DETAIL, BLOOD, GORE, MURDER, AND OTHER HEAVY TOPICS. Please read with caution! Full list of TW at the end. Big photo because we get right into it after the cover.
Andrew and Eddie have been best friends since they were children. Their bond has gotten strained, though, since Eddie started his semester at Vanderbilt earlier. And now Eddie’s dead. Everyone says it was a suicide, but Andrew knows Eddie would never leave him behind, not after what happened in the cavern all those years ago. Not after what they’ve been through, and the hauntings that chase them.
Getting all the stuff I didn’t like out of the way firsttttt per the usual.
The…constant talk of shoulders popping and Andrew feeling things in his molars took me out of the book a couple of times. It seemed like every chapter someone was popping their shoulders, and there were four or five times that Andrew felt something in his molars, which...I don’t understand.
Another thing I don’t get is cars. I care about my car, my lil Ford Fusion, but I know next to nothing about cars, and I don’t care to learn. It was one of the problems I had with Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys: there’s just so much car talk. I came here for ghosts, dammit! Also we get it: Sam’s WRX is gunmetal grey. I know, I KNOW. I also know that driving can help you sort out your emotions (hell I did that the other night when I got so pissed off I had to leave my apartment), so I understand why cars are included in this story about growing up and questioning your so-called “masculinity” and stuff, but it just didn’t do it for me.
I want to point out that masculinity is a social construct, and the author does a great job of exploring white masculinity in this book. Andrew is a broken character at the beginning, so seeing him settle into his skin throughout the story was nice, and a good payoff after all the shit he was put through to get there.
There’s also a conversation here about race, higher academia, and the south in there too that could have been explored more. We meet Luca and West, but there were openings where heavier topics could’ve been broached, especially when Andrew realizes his inheritance was built off the back of slaves, and the whole story revolving around “old southern families” and such. It was touched on, briefly here and there, and I wish more had been done about it because it’s an important topic that‘s swept off to the side for the sake of white characters, which doesn’t sit right. I hope this leads people to deeper conversations, to understand things they didn’t experience themselves, and understand their privilege.
Okay, the things I liked!
The cousins are fucking great. I love Riley and Sam, the way they interact and the humor Riley brings to all the tense parts. He’s fucking great. Sam is also super cool, and I agree: he should stay out of the spooky shit. It doesn’t seem to be going well, but I really hope Sam and Andrew can work it out. Riley and Sam are good for Andrew.
I liked Andrew’s arc. He started this book as Eddie’s shadow, an outline of a person that was so used to relying on, and by the end he was his own person. He still has a lot of growing to do, and I hope Sam, Riley, Luca, and Ethan can help there. I also appreciate that he runs away from all the ’spooky shit’ because same, even if I like to think I wouldn’t.
The cover of this book I’d seen bouncing around Litsy and BookTok a lot, so it’s one of the reasons I picked it up. It’s just gorgeous. And the writing! I have read a lot of books over my life, and for the past 50 I’ve read, I think I had to look up maybe 3 words. It was really nice to find a book where I had to look words up! I love adding to my vocabulary, and it was marvelous. The writing was just so pretty, and I loved reading it.
I liked how Riley’s trans-ness was never a plot topic. It was mentioned…maybe three times, but there was no questioning him, nothing. The only thing that was questioned was Riley’s relationship with Ethan and Luca, which, fair. You don’t see throuples a lot in books, but I think that’s changing and I’m here for it. Everyone deserves more representation, but I wish it had been a little different. The polyamorous couple has the trans man, the black woman, and the Asian man. That’s a lot to carry on three side characters. All Sam and Andrew have going for them is that they’re gay white men, and one of them is in a lower socio-economic class. It’s a good book, but it could use more diversity in the terms of main characters.
Anyway. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s already on my favorites shelf. If you’re a fan of stories by Flannery O’Conner, The Raven Cycle, and spooky ghost stories, Summer Sons is a great read.
Trigger warnings: suicide, racism, homophobia, transphobia, homophobic slurs, death, grief, vomit, drug use, alcohol, murder, injury/injury detail, animal death, mental illness, suicidal thoughts, panic attacks/disorders, self harm, sexual content, death of a parent, gore, terminal illness, cancer, classism, toxic friendship, violence