The Last Summer of the Garrett Girls has a fitting release date, as it’s a perfect summer read. It’s about four sisters and their last summer together, and the book follows the four of them as they branch out and get into all sorts of shenanigans in their small town. Not only does The Last Summer of the Garrett Girls explore sister relationships and friendships with addictive writing, it also has some fabulously complex characters.
My favorite part about The Last Summer of the Garrett Girls is the characters. The sisters are so unique and different but I loved them all! The book is narrated by all four sisters, but it wasn’t hard at all to distinguish between the four of them, as they all have distinct personalities and voices. I decided to make aesthetics with little descriptions of all of them because I love them so much:
Des is 19 and super organized and basically takes care of her family and their business (They run a bookstore!) because their Gram has recently had surgery. She’s an artist, but she’s too self-conscious to show people her work. And guess what? She’s a bullet journalist! I was so excited to meet a character that has a bullet journal like I do. I think Des might be aro/ace (meaning not experiencing romantic/sexual attraction), but it’s not explicitly stated.
“She doesn’t have any interest in dating. She never has. She thinks it’s just the way she’s wired. Till last fall, she always had Em, and that best friendship felt like enough.”
Bea is 18 and getting ready to leave for college with her boyfriend of five years. She’s super smart and ambitious (probably a Slytherin I would say?). She’s an intern at the local newspaper and she stress bakes because of her anxiety. She does some things that I really didn’t like (she cheats on her boyfriend), but I loved her character development, and I do think she feels really bad about the mistakes she makes.
“You say whatever you want about me…but leave my sisters the hell alone.”
Kat is 16, super cool, and very into acting. She’s sassy, she isn’t afraid to speak her mind, and she’s recovering from an eating disorder. She loves Hamilton, which made me so happy!! Just like her older sisters, Kat has a really beautiful character arc. Also, I totally ship her and her love interest!
“God, why can’t everyone be honest? Why is that so hard?”
Vi is 15 and my favorite! She is so pure and adorable and OMG THE SHIP <3. Vi brings a book everywhere, often hides in the nook in the family bookstore, writes fanfiction, is totally awkward and quiet, and is openly gay. I felt like I could relate to so many aspects of Vi’s character, and I absolutely loved how much of a book nerd she was. I mean, all of the YA references had me squealing like crazy! (Albeit quietly, since I mostly read this book late at night because I just couldn’t put it down.)
“Mostly I feel awkward, like I was raised by wolves and don’t know how to interact properly with other humans. I guess I’m a feral bookstore child.”
The characters (and their relatability) are what made this book stand out to me so much. I loved being in their shoes, and I appreciated all of the references SO MUCH. They like so many of the things that I like: Tiny House Hunters, Hamilton, YA books, Tombow pens, Star Wars, bullet journaling. Not to mention all the feminism! It made me so happy.
Another amazing thing about the characters is the amount of effortless diversity that the author sprinkled into the novel. This book has three Asian-American characters, two bisexual characters, a Latina love interest, a boy with two moms and a Black adoptive sister, and a Black ex-boyfriend. Important issues are seamlessly integrated into the story, like when Cece (who’s Latina and born in the US) explains to Vi how people always ask her where she’s from and compliment her English because they assume she must not be American. It also seemed to me like none of the characters were stereotypes, which was super awesome.
There were so many interesting dynamics between characters. You have Des and Paige, who has purple hair and tattoos and is way more adventurous than Des. Paige is a super interesting character, and while she did some seriously not cool things, I really loved how she helped Des come out of her shell. Then you have Bea and Chloe (I loved Chloe’s character!), who have been frenemies for like their entire lives, and there’s Kat and Jillian, who start off with a really bad relationship because Jillian is dating Kat’s ex.
The Last Summer of the Garrett Girls is written in present tense, which I felt was an interesting choice for a contemporary, but I got used to it quickly. Jessica Spotswood is so good—her writing was addictive, and I didn’t want to put the book down!
As for the plot, the story is mostly about the Garrett sisters growing and changing over he course of the summer. There were a few things I didn’t like—the fake dating trope is something that I generally find annoying, and I thought the ending was a little cheesy, but that wasn’t too big of a deal. And it was never really addressed that Des smoked weed a couple of times? Drugs are bad for you, and marijuana is illegal in Maryland, where the book is set, so I feel like that should’ve been a bigger deal.
Aside from those things, I really enjoyed The Last Summer of the Garrett Girls. There are great family dynamics and friend relationships, a diverse cast, some really great ships, lots of book nerd culture, and feminism. Plus some seriously good writing! Basically, what I’m trying to say is that this book is really good.
Content warnings: cheating, marijuana use
Will you be reading The Last Summer of the Garrett Girls? Do you like books about sibling relationships? On a scale of 1 to 10, how excited do you get when you find references in books that you actually understand?
Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book! This is no way affected my review.