May 22, 2012 by Alice in Readerland
“Elizabeth Margaret—better known as Em—has always known what life would contain: an internship at her father’s firm, a degree from Harvard and a career as a lawyer. The only problem is that it’s not what she wants. When she gets the opportunity to get away from it all and spend a month with the aunt she never knew, she jumps at the chance. While there, Em pursues her secret dream of being a chef, and she also learns that her family has kept some significant secrets from her, too. And then there’s Cade, the laid-back local surfer boy who seems to be everything Em isn’t. Naturally, she can’t resist him, and as their romance blossoms, Em feels she is living on her own terms for the first time.” ~ Goodreads description
Title: The Summer My Life Began
Author: Shannon Greenland
Publishing Date: May 10th, 2012
I received this title courtesy of NetGalley
Em’s well-to-do family has her life all planned out for her: she’s going to go to Harvard and become a lawyer. Em’s passion, however, is cooking, something she must hide from her parents. But soon, Em receives a card from her Aunt Matilda, an aunt she never knew. A card that invites her to stay at her aunt’s Bed and Breakfast, called the Pepper House, in the beautiful Outer Banks. “It was like something out of a fairy tale,” Em says of the Pepper House as she pulls up its website in the first chapter of The Summer My Life Began, “with ivy and bright red flowers growing up both sides of the doorway. There were pictures of the tropical-themed rooms and a beautiful bay out back.”
Despite the family estrangement, and the family secret being kept from Em, she’s allowed to stay with her aunt for one month. Setting off, Em is more than ready for a fun, unforgettable, summer. And that is just what she gets.
The imagery is beautiful and vivid, and will leave you wishing that you too could stay at the Pepper House; the surprises one right after another will keep you on your toes, wondering what will be revealed next; and Em’s development will keep you rooting for her all the way to the end.
“I’m not going to forget who I am and become someone else just by visiting Aunt Matilda.” Em says in chapter two. And that’s just what happens. We don’t see Em become an entirely different person, we see her grow.
One of the things I enjoyed the most was getting to see Em enjoy herself and be who she really was. Just by the beginning pages, we see that Em feels trapped into conforming to her demanding family’s ideals, however, at the Pepper House, things change. The warmth and excitement Em was shown (and that she conveyed) was a wonderful change from many of the angst-filled YA novels today. I loved seeing Em go from hiding her dream to being surrounded by people encouraging her to pursue her dream.
For the perfect summer read, get your copy of The Summer My Life Began today!
Here’s an interview I had with Shannon:
Me: On your bio, you mentioned that you actually dreaded reading and writing when you were a kid! Now you’re an award winning author. What happened that made you change your mind?
Shannon: When I was in my late twenties, a friend gave me a pile of books and said, “Here, read!”. Only out of dire boredom did I pick one up and my life has never been the same. Suddenly I found myself in the public library browsing the shelves, jotting down authors I liked, and checking out books. About six months after that I started writing my first novel. And about a year after that I had signed my first publishing contract. It all seems so crazy now!
Me: What advice would you give to aspiring young authors?
Shannon: Join writing groups/clubs/organizations. It’s what I did and it opened my world to the industry. Not only did I learn how to really write, but I also made fantastic contacts and friends that I still have all these years later.
Me: In The Summer My Life Began, Em’s parents are pressuring her into a career life style that she doesn’t want. Do you think that many young adults today face that challenge?
Shannon: Oh, sure. I know when I was a teenager I was a little lost. Adults would ask me what I wanted to be and although I gave an acceptable response, I never really knew. I knew I wanted to travel and be adventurous. I knew I liked math. Honestly, sometimes I just wanted someone to tell me what decision to make when. It wasn’t until I got out of college that I started discovering what felt right for me. On the flip side I had high school friends that knew what they wanted, went after it, and still do it to this day. I also had friends whose parents told them what they were going to do, and they did it. I suppose it all depends on the individual.
Me: Are some of the characters in The Summer My Life Began partly based on you or people you know?
Shannon: All my characters have bits and pieces of the people I meet over the years. All my characters have bits and pieces of me, too. I suppose that’s why I always feel connected to every character because they link back to someone I either knew or currently know now.
Me: The settings in The Summer My Life Began are written so vividly! Did you draw inspiration from your travels for some of the scenes?
Shannon: I spent two weeks in Bermuda and used my experiences there to create the island setting in The Summer My Life Began. When I wrote my spy series, The Specialists, I drew on my travels to Europe and South America to create the adventurous missions my spies go on.
Me: Is there a question that you’ve wanted to be asked in interviews, but have never gotten asked before? If so, talk away!
Shannon: You know what? I think I’m good! That’s the great thing about interviews, the questions are always unique in their own way.
Thanks so much for the interview, Shannon!
The Summer My Life Began on Amazon