Cover Image: The Summer of Everything

The Summer of Everything

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Member Reviews

I was looking forward to this book for months, and my high expectations were exceeded. It gave me warm feelings, a kindred friendship with the characters, and a fresh look at youth. If you enjoyed Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, you'll definitely love The Summer of Everything.
Set in Santa Monica and the surrounding southern California area, The Summer of Everything is the perfect summer read. Warm nights and best friends. The highs and lows of hope. I'm going to recommend this book to all my students without hesitation.

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Such a great story of establishing your identity and navigating the transition from being a teen to becoming an adult. Julian Winters is such a talented writer and this book was enjoyable.

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Wesley Hudson excels at two things – ignoring his responsibilities and pining after his best friend, Nico. He spends the summer before college working his dream job at Once Upon a Page, writing lists of ways to confess his feelings and trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life after high school. When the future of the bookstore is threatened by an expanding coffee shop, he must team up with his misfit group of coworkers to try and come up with ways to save the store. To top it all off, his brother, Leo, is trying to plan a wedding, and needs Wesley to help with wedding duties. Can Wesley save the store, get the guy, and assist with the wedding all in just a few months? It truly shapes up to be the summer of everything.

In true Julian Winters’ fashion, this book packed a punch while having an underlying message of hope. It tackles topics such as grief, death of a parent, privilege, first love, and figuring out your future in a way that felt natural and necessary. The diverse cast of characters was refreshing to see – so many racial identities, sexual orientations, and genders are explored and unquestioned. Personally, I started tearing up when a character comes out as aroace (aromantic and asexual), because it’s how I identify and we don’t often see characters portrayed as such, and I believe so many people will be able to experience that same feeling while reading this book. The plot itself was fun to follow, and I appreciated the crazy shenanigans Wesley and his friends engage in to try and save the store – it shows that when you’re passionate about something, and it’s threatened, you really will try to do anything to save it. Leo felt like a realistic older sibling, and while him and Wesley feel disconnected for most of the novel, they are still family and Leo will do anything to help his little brother. And I must say, the best friends to lovers trope was so well done, I was rooting for Wesley and Nico to sit down and talk about their mutual feelings – it also felt nice that romance wasn’t rushed, and the characters had conversations about boundaries and no one did anything that made them uncomfortable.

All in all, I can’t wait for this book to come out so I can purchase a finished copy and add it to my Julian Winters collection on my shelf. His books just have a way with words that make me want to revisit them for comfort, and The Summer of Everything is no exception. If you’re looking for an enjoyable read, I highly recommend picking this one up.

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This review will be posted on my blog on August 8, 2020

Julian Winters is a great YA author. I read a lot of YA books – I’ve always loved them, and it’s continued long into my adulthood. I also continue to read them so I’m better able to recommend them at the Library because them young people read a lot! This wasn’t my favourite of his books… but it’s certainly a good book! I think. It’s more of a personal thing.

First of all, there is great representation in this book. The main character Wesley is biracial and gay, his best friend and crush is queer and Mexican American. There’s a lovely supporting cast too: biracial side character, a fat side character, a Black side character, a queer Hawaiian side character, aroace character, Black lesbian supporting character, and enby supporting character. There is a character who uses they/them pronouns, there is a character who mentions wearing a binder, and Wesley’s parents are an interracial couple. I don’t think I missed anyone!

There is some great discussion about being a POC and the privilege of “passing”, and the issues that POC face daily. Never does the book come off as preachy or forced – in case you’re worried about that kind of thing. It could seem that it was a bit of stretch to believe that all these diverse folks ended up together, but why not? The bookstore that Wesley works at is a haven for people who are different, who are looking for something “more” in their lives. It makes sense they would be drawn to that type of place.

The main plot of the story is that Wesley’s ongoing quest is to finally be able to tell his best friend, Nico, that’s he got a crush on him. They’ve been friends for a really long time and have always been close. Now that Wesley is facing his final summer in town before going off to college, he is determined to let Nico know how he feels about him.

Wesley’s character is great. He is bright and clumsy and makes lists of very important things. In fact, he’s an expert list-maker. Nico is on Wesley’s top 5 people list… there are lots of reasons for that. Mostly, Wesley just feels “right” when he’s with Nico.

Things are confusing for Wesley. There’s a lot going on in his life. He’s struggling to figure out what he wants to major in. Leaving the bookstore “Once Upon A Page” feels like having to leave home and he doesn’t’ want to do it. And there’s Nico. Is Nico giving him signs that he might be interested? Is he interested in any of the people he sees? What if their friendship is ruined by Wesley’s confession? All of these things conspire to have Wesley constantly avoiding telling Nico anything.

Wesley seems to have a great family. His Mom writes Horrmance books – and Wesley’s complete annoyance by the whole thing is hilarious. His father is a Chef and mostly just texts Wesley to remind him that he needs to choose a specialization. Wesley’s older brother Leo is in law and he doesn’t really seem to have a lot in common with Wesley. There are some sweet moments between the brothers.

Winters writes great descriptions of where the charact4rs are. I have a real sense of what the bookstore was like, and the skies, the beach down in Venice. I can really picture that ideal summer in my head… even if it didn’t turn out quite the way that Wesley had hoped it would.

I would gladly recommend this book to anyone. It’s a sweet story with great representation and reads as authentically young adult.

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CWs : Some descriptions of anxiety and panic attacks, mentions of parental death (of a supporting character), some references to chronic disease (cancer) and its effects

As I live and breathe, Julian Winters has done it again. This is a wonderful, heart-warming story about friendship, self-discovery, and coming to meet the future head on even when you don't have all the answers.

The Summer of Everything is a story that interrogates what it means to grow up and be an adult, and it especially challenges the idea that adults have control and know exactly what they're doing, because they don't always! Wes' struggle to figure out what he wants to do with his life really speaks to the gray area young adults often inhabit, where they're "too young" to be taken seriously and yet "old enough" to know what's good for themselves.

As Wes says, "I'm adult enough for expectations, but not adult enough to know what I want."

Wes is terrified of what he doesn't know and what he can't control, which is why he clings so steadfastly to the things he cares about most: the bookstore, his friends, his love for his best friend Nico. Over the course of the story, he is learning that he has to let the future happen to him, because it is real and unavoidable. He can either succumb to it or be the one who shapes it.

This book is just even more of what Julian Winters does best: found family, A+ group dynamics, incredible banter, nostalgic summer fun, and a super sweet romance to top it all off. Wes definitely goes on a journey to figure out what he wants, but it was a journey I was glad to be on with him. Definitely recommend along with all of Julian Winters' work!

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It's the summer after high school graduation, the summer Wes is expected to suddenly become an adult and figure everything out. But adulting is hard when you're stuck in a high school crush, have a strained relationship with your only sibling, and the one place you feel the most "you" is closing.

This is a fairly typical YA romance with the overused trope of being in love with your best friend. There is plenty of diversity and LGTBQ+ representation; the main character is biracial and gay, his best friend and love interest is Latin and probably bi, there is a mixed-race lesbian couple, and a younger transgender teen. This is an enjoyable read as far as teen romances go, not too heavy, but does has some very relevant themes for teens who are also trying to figure stuff out.

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This book was cute. I generally enjoyed it, though the writing left something to be desired for me. I am not a huge consumer of YA, though I do enjoy some authors (particularly David Levithan). As a queer person, it's always nice to read fiction with a diverse range of queer characters, especially those struggling to figure out their own identities and how to express themselves. I appreciated the epilogue to check in on the characters in the future, but it's not a story that will stick with me.

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A charming, sweet, and relatable m/m YA romance with a diverse cast of characters centered around an independent bookstore.

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This isn't my first Julian Winters book. Matter of fact, his fall releases are a spotlight of my year. Last year, we had How to Be Remy Cameron, which focused a lot on identity.

This year, we have The Summer of Everything a book that focuses a lot of on friendship, the future, and family.

I liked TsoE a lot and I feel it showcases Julian Winters' progress as a writer and a storyteller.

We have Wes, a recent high school graduate, who's coming back from a trip to Italy with restauranteur (is this a word?) father and author mother, who want to know what Wes is planning for his future, what his five years plan is, and what is going to major in. Wes knows none of the answers. And would rather spend his summer simply figuring out a way to confess his crush to his best friend Nico. My heart fluttered so badly whenever Wes and Nico interacted, how their chemistry as both best friends and a potential couple shined off the page. They had history, compassion for one another, and so much tenderness. Even from Wes's perspective alone, we can feel Nico's mutual pining. Hell, y'all will want to hug the guy. Because Nico deals with his own grief of losing his father 2 years ago (sophomore year) and has everything planned to be a future doctor so he can save many others like his dad.

There's also the matter of the bookstore where Wes sees a future. Except the bookstore itself might not have one. So, with the help of Anna (gentle), Elle (emo), Cooper (EXCITED), Nico (<3), Zay (chill), and Lucas (darling) they try and save it from being absorbed by the evil badly named coffee house.

You'll also love reading about Wes' brother Leo and his fiance Leeann. And her competing maids of honor. (Can't she have two?)

This book is queer, joyful, heartbreaking, and honestly, a must-read.

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The typical YA friend-in-love-with-friend romantic comedy gets a refreshing makeover in this wonderful book from Julian Winters. With a black and a latinx love interest, along with a mix of all types of different people as supporting characters, including a powerful female who is heavy and doesn't care to a ace/aro co-worker, a non-binary customer, and more, this book feels more "today" than any YA book in recent memory. The characters use realistic language for teens who either just graduated high school or are just starting, and their use of technology felt right and not forced. This book was magical, and I wanted to join the gang at the Once Upon A Page bookstore and work there forever!

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In this story Wesley Hudson struggles with adulthood and transitioning from teenager to adult. He struggles with his crush on his best friend Nico. He struggles to decide on a major to study in college. And when he discovers that the independent bookstore he works at is in financial struggle and might close by the end of summer, he sets out to try and save it from closing. The idea of not knowing what you want for your future is something that I personally connected to. It really puts out the message that it is okay to not know what you want to study in college or pursue as a career. Many young people need to hear that. This book is also very quotable; there were so many quotes I highlighted because they spoke to me. I liked that there was a lot of LGBTQ+ representation. Wes is gay, his friend Cooper is aroace, his friends Anna and Kyra begin a relationship, and Lucas (a frequent customer who helps Wes in the bookstore) has the pronouns they/them. This representation never felt forced, and I liked the conversation Wes and Cooper had about people pretending your label is not real or not seeing beyond straight, gay, and lesbian. I also loved the conversation about race and privilege that Wes has with Zay, another employee. Wes is a biracial Black teen and Zay is Black. They discuss how Black people have to take advantage of the opportunities that come up because they are few and far between. Wes also thinks about his privilege as a light skinned Black person and how his experience is not exactly the same as Zay's. This book did so much good, but I felt the pacing was off. There were a lot of sections that could have been condensed. Overall, this book was enjoyable and had excellent representation. I rated this 3.5/5 stars.

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Julian Winters’ The Summer of Everything was everything (get it?) that I needed to read right now. Not only is this novel an incredibly diverse, heartwarming, contemporary friends to lovers romance story, it explores the often confusing space between high school ending and ‘adult’ life beginning and many of the questions that transition brings to the forefront.

Wes (gay, biracial, and so named for the Wesley Crusher of Star Trek fame) works at an independent bookstore with his longtime crush, Nico Alvarez, and most of his wide and wonderful circle of friends. When Once Upon a Page, the place Wes has treated as a home away from home for so long, is faced with imminent closure, he’s forced to confront his long-standing indecision and fear of change, both about the possible closure of the store and his feelings for Nico.

Full of nerd culture, indie bookstore feels, the ups and downs of friendship, and the complicated emotions impending adulthood brings, The Summer of Everything nails everything you’d expect from a contemporary YA romance. The list of representation in this is as long as my arm, including but not limited to: gay, bisexual, lesbian, non-binary, aroace, fat, and many different races including Black and Mexican-American. Plus, you could cultivate a wicked soundtrack with all the songs mentioned by name throughout this homage to 90s California vibes.

Ultimately, The Summer of Everything reinforces a message many teens and young adults might need to hear: that it’s totally okay not to have it all figured out. For those readers looking for an charming LGBTQ+ romance with engaging characters and topical life lessons, with the added bonus of being an Own Voices work, they need look no further than this wonderfully packaged slice of summer.

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There were a lot of reasons I wanted to like this book. I want more geeky, queer, POC, main characters. I want coming of age queer romances. That said, I found this novel hard to get through. The first person narration felt clunky. It seemed to lack nuance, and I felt like the narrator was really hammering home points to make sure we got them in a way that seemed unnecessary. The novel started slow and though there was initial action and conflict, I didn't feel like I had ample reason to fall in love with the Wes. Throughout the novel this did not much improve. Sadly, I would not recommend this book to a friend or purchase it.

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The Summer of Everything is a beautiful exploration of the tricky period between teenhood and adulthood. It reinforces the message that it's ok to not have it all figured out and still be learning who you are.

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3.5 Stars - The biggest strength of this book and why I'm currently tipping my hat to Julian Winters, is the fact that this book deals with a really important topic - and that is that odd transitional period between teenagdom and adulthood. I loved Wes for how candid he was about not having it all figured out and not feeling like he was ready for adulthood. I think that is such a real feeling, that heavy weight of expectation that once you graduate from high school your only choice is to go to college or get a job and its hard to get a job without going to college. That can be an incredibly daunting feeling and I think Winters did a fantastic job of exploring that through Wes. This reason is the biggest reason why I would recommend it to teens and encourage its addition to YA collections. I know there are other books out there that may deal with similar thematic elements, but I think Winters book was able to do this in a way that felt honest and even a little messy. Both things I believe YA readers will appreciate.

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Julian Winters is the king of adorable, fluffy contemporary romance. This was such an uplifting, heartwarming and, above all, nerdy and fun read. The main character is amazing - it's impossible to not love this gay nerd who's named after Wesley Crusher. And the setting? Most of the book is set in an indie bookstore! I feel like Julian Winters' writing gets exponentially better - this is perfect if you want to read something wholesome.

Rep: biracial gay MC, multi-gender attracted Mexican-American love interest, biracial side character, fat side character, Black side character, queer Hawaiian (Polynesian-Filippino-Japanese) side character, aroace side character, Black lesbian side character, non-binary side character

CWs: illness (cancer) of a side character, discussions of racism

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This is the story of Wes, an 18-year-old who is crushing on his best friend and trying to figure out what comes next in his life. Can he leave his childhood bookstore and beloved job behind and become an adult? The answer is...I'm not sure. This is my first Julian Winters book and like the other two, something disconnects this for me. I like the plot, I like the characters (in theory), I like what he is trying to say. But I just don't love his writing style. I am not even sure I can say it's bad, because I don't think it strictly is. But it just rubs me the wrong way. Some of his phrasings make my eyes roll. I choked on some of the dialogue. Some of the descriptions were overly saccharine and some were weirdly specific. Some things were overly sappy and sometimes the characters didn't feel like real people, but caricatures. This may be just my personal response because I have come to learn I respond more to raw characterizations than sentimental or stylized ones. I have learned with Winters, you usually get the latter. And that's okay for YA fiction, it just isn't for me.

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This is a fun, light, diverse read that is perfect for when you want to escape into a story for a bit. Winters did a great job creating believable and unique characters that didn't just seem like stereotypes or cut outs for the sake of diversity. The writing was light and funny, the story was engaging. OVerall this was a solid read.

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This is the kind of YA book that we need more of. It’s a beautiful representation of a diverse group of friends during a life-changing summer.
For the most part, the characters are all given proper growth and shine throughout the novel. At some points in the book you just want to give Wes a good shake, but you also know he’s doing what he can.
As a bookseller myself, my heart especially went out to their struggles at Once Upon a Page and the connections they made with the customers.

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Thank you to NetGalley for this digital ARC of THE SUMMER OF EVERYTHING by Julian Winters. This YA rom-com is about Wesley Hudson, eighteen-year-old, bi-racial high school graduate who doesn’t know what to do with his life. Just because he’s eighteen, doesn’t mean he wants to be an adult. He doesn't know what to study at UCLA, how to tell Nico he wants to be more than friends, and how to save Once Upon A Page from closing, a bookstore that he just doesn’t work at, but one that has been his second home for years.

This story was so much fun. It’s been a while since a book made me laugh out loud. Winters writes fun, diverse characters, like Ella, an overweight, sassy, goth chic who seems to still shop at Hot Topic. There’s Cooper, a new employee obsessed with social media. I love how he sets up his scenes, like how he talks about the colors of the sunset, the sounds of the beach. Every little detail written made each scene feel real.

I don’t see this as just a love story. I see this as being afraid to grow up and move on. Wes has been crushing on Nico for years. Wes has been reading comic books in Once Upon A Page since he was a child. And Wes can’t move on from how his big brother, Leo, treated him. THE SUMMER OF EVERYTHING is a story about finding out who you are with your friends’ help. You might have ups and downs along the way, but you will eventually get to where you need to be. As the bookstore owner, Mrs. Rossi said, don’t make an impact. Be the impact.

I had no idea what to make of Wes and Nico’s relationship. I wasn’t sure if I was rooting for Wes and Nico. I think I just wanted Wes to try new things and see what’s out there. At the epilogue, we see his life in two years with his friends after his brother’s wedding. It was a nice, satisfied ending, and we see Wes is still trying to figure out his life. And that’s okay. Because no matter you’re eighteen, twenty-three, or even older, how are you supposed to always know? You just let a summer, a school year, your life guide you through it.

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