Saturday, 14 July 2012

Contemporary Summer: Review of Bringing the Summer by Julia Green

Bringing the Summer (Breathing Underwater #2) by Julia Green
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Released: 10th May 2012
My Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

It’s the lazy end of summer and Freya is about to start her A levels. Her brother Joe died a year ago, but she is slowly coming to terms with his death. She is beginning to feel ready for something new – a change. And then a railway accident brings her into contact with the gorgeous Gabe. Freya is drawn not just to his blond good looks, but everything about him, including his large, shambolic, warm and loving family, which seems to Freya so different from her own.

And then Gabe’s clearly troubled older brother makes it clear he is interested in Freya – and Freya has some decisions to make about what she really wants.
(from Goodreads)

Bringing the Summer was a thoughtful read about life and love and friendship. It was actually the sequel to the book Breathing Underwater, which I hadn’t read, but I had no problems following the storyline and so I think Bringing the Summer could definitely work well on its own as well a part of a series.

Freya was just starting her A-levels and had a particular interest in art, which was how she met Gabe, who was doing an Art Foundation course. Though Freya lost her brother two years ago, she tried to be positive and optimistic, and I admired her positive nature and her desire to help other people. You could tell Freya was also a nice, genuinely caring person, and while I did like this about her, she sometimes felt like a background character rather than the main character, despite the fact the story revolved around her (i.e. though it was her story, the other characters took the limelight). I think it was because she had a quieter personality that stood out less in comparison to other characters. For example, I loved Gabe in his family because they were so, I don’t know, colourful and lively. It was great to see a family that was close and fun, yet like most other families, had its problems too. Gabe and Theo, the two brothers, were especially interesting, but I also loved Gabe’s mother Maddie and his sister Beth who each treated Freya as if she were a member of their family and made her feel so welcome.

Gabe was a great guy and I think he was really kind and accepting not to get really angry over the situation with Theo (obviously he was a bit upset, but I think he dealt with everything really well). I liked how he and Freya spent their time together and thought he was a very good friend who looked out for her. It was also interesting to see the relationship he shared with his brother – they were closer than I thought but it was definitely a complex relationship.

Theo was completely different – cynical, mysterious and a bit broken. He could be very obsessive and couldn’t get past the death of a girl he knew called Bridie. He compared everything to her and was constantly living in the past. He wasn’t really in the right emotional state to be in a relationship, but he could also be fun and sweet and I think the time he spent with Freya changed him, even if only a little.

The plot was mainly character driven, with Freya trying to decide what to do and with stories from Gabe and Theo’s pasts. It was well paced and I finished the book it one sitting (though it was relatively short, there was quite a lot packed in there). I loved the setting (I have always wanted to sit on Lyra and Will’s bench in Oxford) and really enjoyed all the descriptions. The ending, though bittersweet (for me!), was probably what was best for Freya and I think I agreed with her decision. She was quite wise for a sixteen year old (yet sometimes as playful as a child as well) and as the book was left sort of open (everything was resolved, but there was room to imagine some more) I think I know what I’ll be imagining for Freya’s future.

Overall, Bringing the Summer was an engaging, pensive novel and I would recommend it to all contemp fans! 
Don't forget you can win a set of Julia Green's books (including this one) here (UK/Ireland only).


  1. I love YA books that are technically part of a series but can stand on their own.

  2. i've been seeing this one everywhere! thanks for the great review! i honestly didn't know it was ya.

  3. OH! This is a sequel? I wasn't aware of that either, but I'm glad you're able to read it without having read the first (I do have a copy of this, but I WOULD like to read the first, if I can. We'll see!).

    Love how you describe Gabe's family, and Gabe himself sounds like a really great character. I like how different both brothers seem in comparison. While I am an obsessive nut for needing to EVERY SINGLE DETAIL when a book ends, I really have an appreciation for those that leave things open and allow you to ponder what might happen later. So it's cool to see that done here too.

    Definitely need to check this out soon! Thanks for the brillsome review!


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