Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for granting me free access to the advanced digital copy of this book.
Thirty Summers is a sapphic romance about a woman living in the year of 2019 and time travels to a small town in 1989. It's beautiful, nostalgic and I recommend it if you're looking for a story with charismatic characters that'll make you reflect upon life.
Thirty Summers tries to tackle coming out and sapphic love in two different time periods in an interesting way. In places it’s witty, heartwarming, and will also make you cry. If you like LGBTQ romance or books with time travel, give this a whirl.
The beautiful writing of the author immerses us in the lighthearted love story between two women facing different problems with their own sexual identities.This book is not jus about romance but also about all kind of love. In 1989, Jess will not only find true love but also friends who will become family. Friends who will accept her and Trisha. The story is pure and beautiful. It's about being your true and authentic self. The representation of lesbian love feels real and genuine. Queer women and non-binary lesbian will be able to feel represented in a book.Even knowing that the two characters were living in different times, we just wanted them to be happy. Their love was true and pure. The end of the book was really emotionnal and broke my heart !
From the front cover I expected this to be a cute and easy read that I read in one sitting, and I did read it in one sitting but it was much more raw and heartbreaking than I expected it to be. it was also so much better for it
This review will be filled with spoilers. And anger.
I have never wanted to have a physical version of a book so badly, just so I could punch it. Throw it. Burn it. Anything to take out my anger. Oh my god, this was atrocious! I love time travel, I thought this would be a fun little romance like 'one last stop' (which is one of my favourite books I've read this year, and I've read nearly 200 books this year so yknow), but it is nothing like it. The characters honestly felt fairly flat - Jess reads like a spoilt, rich teenager who's 'not like the others' and 'doesn't fit in', whilst still very much benefiting from her privilege. Everyone else is flat and or homophobic. There wasn't enough history of the magical time travelling boat (I'm still sus of the dad), and nothing was really all that compelling. Then, covid rears its ugly head, preventing Jess from travelling back to 1989 as planned, incase she brings covid back with her. This leads a 50+up Trish to come looking for Jess in the present day, where they end up fucking and carrying on where they left off. No one but Jess's 'traditional rich lifestyle' mum calls out how fucking weird this is. I don't care if you knew each other before, the age gap is fucking weird. BUT IT GETS WORSE. Trish has cancer, and after the worst example of a medical appointment ever, we find it's spread everywhere. We go from 0-60 pretty quickly, and Trish is on her death-bed. Whilst feeling helpless, it says "On occasion, Jess would think it humane if she went into that room and covered her with a pillow as she slept". I had to put the book down. I have never felt so nauseous. I read and watch extreme horror. I've cared for my own loved ones dying. I still feel sick thinking about this line. I genuinely need to know if the author has ever dealt with this situation/spoken to anyone who has. I have begged the world to give me their pain, to let me take it away, anything but FUCKING MURDERING THEM. What the fucking fuck??? Trish quickly dies, and tells Jess in a letter to DELETE ALL THEIR PICTURES except one she printed, because that's all she should need to remember her? I would fight anyone who tried to delete a single one. Then, of course for plot convenience, she also fixes the magic boat and Jess 'accidentally' goes back and meets up with Trish for a happily ever 30 years I guess?? Not only was this just ghastly, the writing nor characters were good enough for the previous 90% to be worth it. Jess spends most of the book telling Trish that 'no one bats an eyelid if you’re gay' in 2019/cities - erm, what fucking world are you living in? It appears the author is LGBT, but is apparently so delusional that she doesn't think the hellscape of LGBT rights is anything to worry about, nor the fact people are still very much disowned, sent to conversion camps, or killed for coming out in 2023 cities (and elsewhere). Rich, white privilege is rife throughout the book, and I would expect some of the lack of any real world knowledge for a teenager maybe but come on??? There's no research or thought outside of this privilege for medical care, family dynamics, money, etc and everything is fine because Jess's family is rich so we'll just breeze past it all, shall we? I have so many more thoughts but I am angry and disgusted. The trigger warning for 'tough topics' was not adequate when you’re talking about murdering your loved one who is dying of cancer. Get fucked. The authors bio at the end of the book reads "A. S. Randall is dedicated to writing Lesbian fiction" but apparently she's not dedicated enough to make it good.
This book was so meh. I was looking forward to it from reading the blurb but it just didn't flow and appeared disjointed.
The premise of this book had me intrigued. I was a bit disappointed that the execution wasn't the best it could have been. There was a lot of third person POV and it sort of took me out of the story. Also 9 chapters of Jess' POV and suddenly it's Trisha's.
I nearly DNF this book but as I had passed the 70% mark I decided to pull through. I was happy I did as the story got more interesting but sadly it then fell back on tiresome tropes which took me out of the story again.
Overall I am happy I finished the book but there were parts where I really had to push through. The story is good but there could have been made a few different decisions and writing styles.
An ARC was provided to me via Netgalley in return for an honest review.
In A.S. Randall’s “Thirty Summers” a young woman, Jess, finds herself able to travel back in 1989 by way of sailing on the family boat. While in 1989 she falls in love with Trisha and they have a romance, but Trisha is bound to the norms of the time and struggles with coming out. The story details their relationship from 1989 and modern day.
Overall, I enjoyed the storyline. I felt the ending was a little abrupt, but from what I’ve read now I’ve heard there’s talk of a sequel. I’d be intrigued how the author would handle the sequel - will Jess try to make any changes in the past?
Though I didn’t mind the time travel, the one part of the story I struggled with was Jess with modern day Trisha. I’m not sure I believed the two of them together. I also could have done with an alternate ending. Growing up, most lesbian representation on tv or movies seemed to show a similar fate and while I can see how this is realistic, I would have rather seen the relationship explored. Maybe this will be addressed somehow in the sequel.
A love story with the wrong timing, quite literally. Jess and Trish are separated by decades in the time-space continuum, and find each other via the magic of Jess' family boat. The story dives into the societal norms in different eras - the eventual acceptance of their love by Jess' family and the rejection of Trisha's family, by contrast. The story is a moving illustration of the timelessness of love.
The ARC may have been an early edit, and required another run-through; spelling and grammatical errors errors aplenty and potential to tighten many of the sentences/paragraphs.
Thank you NetGalley for the opportunity for review and feedback.
I wish I could go back and not request this book.
This was so bad. It was all over the place, it wasn't interesting and the only reason I did not DNF was because I had recently promised myself I would push through all the books.
I wanted to love this book so badly, I love a time-travel romance and I LOVE the 80s so this was set up to be a no brainer 5 star for me. Unfortunately it quickly fell short. Between an utterly insufferable main character and abrupt POV changes, I found myself more frustrated than not while reading. And Jessica. Oh Jessica. She insists she isn't like other rich girls but she is, in fact, exactly like them. Overall, a huge swing and a miss in my book. Unfortunately I cannot recommend this.
The third person perspective was jarring and made me feel a disconnect from the characters. I was not attached to any of the characters unfortunately, and in addition the story was told as an observing someone's life. But you're not there. You can't breathe the salty air she loves and feel the waves crashing. I'd love more personalization to be able to continue reading this book.
thought this premise was so interesting but the execution is sloppy - the prose and dialogue come across as pretty unformed and juvenile. a shame, i was looking forward to fun sci-fi gays!
Thirty Summers by A.S. Randall presents an intriguing premise of time travel and a timeless love story set in a small English coastal town. However, while the book has potential, it falls short in various aspects, leaving the reader wanting more.
The story follows Jessica, a young woman who enjoys solitude and sailing on her father's boat. During one of her trips, she encounters love at first sight with Trisha, a local café waitress. However, Jessica soon realizes that she has somehow time-traveled back to 1989. As Jessica and Trisha navigate the challenges of their journey together, they also reexamine their present, future, and themselves.
The premise of time travel and the comparison between the freedoms of a small English coastal town in 1989 and 2019 is interesting. It offers an opportunity to explore the dynamics of different eras and their impact on relationships. The book reads quickly, allowing readers to delve into the story without much effort.
However, despite the promising premise, the execution falls short. The sentence structure feels overly simplified, and the plot lacks depth and complexity. The dialogue between the main characters, Jessica and Trisha, often feels stilted and forced, making it challenging to fully invest in their connection. The instant love between them lacks a believable foundation, leaving readers questioning the authenticity of their relationship.
Furthermore, the characterization is lacking, making it difficult to truly know and connect with the characters. Jessica, in particular, comes across as entitled and difficult to empathize with, displaying a "not like other girls" energy that can be off-putting. The motivations behind Jessica and Trisha's attraction to each other remain unclear, further hindering the development of their romance.
The book would benefit from more thorough editing to improve the flow and coherence of the narrative. With a stronger focus on character development and more nuanced dialogue, the story could have had a greater impact.
Thirty Summers has an interesting premise and potential, but it falls short in several key areas. The lackluster plot, stilted dialogue, and challenging main characters make it difficult to fully engage with the story. While some side characters show promise, they cannot fully compensate for the book's shortcomings. Overall, the book requires further refinement to reach its full potential.
2.7 rounded up to 3/5
30 Summers is a book following Jessica, a 20-something young woman, who enjoys her time alone sailing on her dad's boat. During one trip, however, something peculiar happens. It seems her trip has not only been to a place, but to a time. She fails to notice this at first, as she is mesmerized by the waitress, Trish, who's working in a cafe she visits. The story follows the dual perspective of the past and the present, and Jessica and Trish's relationship, highlighted by the differences in their own timelines.
30 Summers promises a summer romance, an adventure, and in the most literal way, that is what it delivers. However, for me personally, this book feels quite short on many of its aspects. To start off, the writing style was not my favorite. It does read extremely fast, but the overly simple sentence structure combined with the lackluster plot does no favors to the novel. All of the dialogue felt stilted and forced, the banter was absolutely non-existent. There were so many instances in which I thought that there was no way an actual human would say that, and the conversations just felt forced.
Jessica, the main character, reads very much as a 'not-like-the-other-girls' type of protagonist, something I would've loved at 16, but not something I love now, and not something I appreciate in a character who is over 20. She is incredibly childish, doesn't consider any of her actions, she is spoiled and she expects the whole world to bend to her in a way. She has not learned that her actions have consequences up until this point, and it truly shows. She is way too entitled, and I truly could not connect to her in any way.
Trish is by far, the more sympathetic and easier to connect to. Her circumstances are significantly harder than Jessica's, but I don't think there was enough nuance in the topic. Trish does feel less developed as a character (although Jessica is also, aside from her flaws) and there is very little to her personality besides her unfortunate situation. The year is 1989, her family is religious, and there is a lot of pressure on her to just marry some guy who likes her.
The reason I say the story and the contrast between her and Jess lacks nuance is, as much as the book points out how much was done for queer rights in the three decades that separate Trish and Jessica, Jessica does a very poor job of remembering this, even as she brings this up. She expects Trish to exist within her own bubble, even though for Trish that is simply not the reality. She quite literally cannot comprehend that Trish doesn't feel free to make the choice to just be with her, that homophobia is so prevalent, and that there are no equal rights as there are in 2019. Jessica does not seem to be able to comprehend this, and that was baffling to me. She either knows nothing about queer history, which is wild, or she is so used to being a privileged, spoiled brat that she doesn't understand there are different life experiences, and that not everyone is free to do as they please.
Honestly, the only saving grace for this book, and why the 1.5 and not just 1 star, is Maude and her husband and how warm they are to Jess. Maude has definitely had some not-so-great comments, but given the time, and that she is willing to learn, and still supports Jessica, that was one part of the book I actually liked. Other side characters are barely glimpses and tropes in place of characters, such as Jessica's parents. An overbearing mother who doesn't even try to understand her daughter and an overindulgent father, who we're supposed to believe has a great understanding for his daughter, but I didn't enjoy their relationship at all.
In this next part, I will get into some specifics, so if you want to stay spoiler free, just know that the further progression of the story is also not my favorite.
COVID happens in the book, as it happens in reality, and that is the reason Jess is unable to go back to see Trish. However, they reconnect in the present day, with Trish being 30 years older than when they met. I found this resolution, if I can even call it that, perhaps the worst possible option this story could've chosen. It feels strange that Trish, with all of her 30 years of additional life experiences, with all that she's lived through, still wants to be with Jessica, who is only marginally more mature by the time they reconnect (and given how immature she was when they met, it's not looking great for her still).
The whole tension when they get back together, with Trish thinking she is too old and Jess shouldn't be with her, with what happens in the end (I will leave the details of this out, but be aware the topics of cancer, and death of a loved one are explored here), I just wasn't a fan of this relationship in the present day. It didn't seem like it was the best-case scenario, there was next to no chemistry (though if I'm being fair there was none before either), and I think there were better ways this story could've been concluded.
All in all, this novel simply didn't work for me. Perhaps I expected something different, perhaps it was simply written for a different target audience. If you think this story would work better for you, please don't let me deter you from reading it, as always, this is just my opinion :)
Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an ebook in exchange for an honest review!
I honestly didn't think I had an issue with insta-love, but this is the second book with that trope that I've read this week, and it's just really off-putting. Maybe my tastes are changing. Or maybe it's that it leans into the lesbian stereotype. Either way, I wasn't a fan of the beginning of the relationship between Jessica and Trisha. Jessica becomes infatuated with Trisha, despite their only interaction being a customer/server dynamic. The time travel twist was fun. I appreciated the conversations between Jess and Trish about the differences in being gay and out in each of their times. As an elder millennial, I saw firsthand how difficult and, frankly, dangerous it was to be queer in the late 80s and early 90s. But as someone who had a gay uncle while growing up and who was raised being told that I could love whomever I wanted to, I, like Jess, didn't quite understand what the big deal was. So I could see both perspectives and felt all of the frustration of both women. Overall, the story was enjoyable. It wasn't groundbreaking, but it kept my attention for 4 hours. I think that the queer representation was done fairly well. Trisha was the stereotype of the lesbian who is forced to be closeted due to fear of religion and losing her family and community. Her character growth was admirable. As was Jessica's, though hers was a longer, rockier path without the benefit of a 30 year time jump. My favorite character, though, is absolutely Harold. He didn't say or do much, but when he did, it was worth the wait.
The premise of this book was interesting. The execution was... not. This book was a mess and all over the place and I almost DNF but I decided to push it through. There was just nothing enjoyable about it and the reading experience was painful, you'd think it's because it's a sad story, but no, it's just bad. There were so many grammar mistakes and the lack of punctuation was so annoying, it made me disconnect from the story as I was trying to understand what was being said. This is just something that really bothered me throughout the book. The dialogue in this was terrible and it made me cringe every time. Also, what's up with the line gap in EVERY single paragraph? it feels like something a teen would do in their homework so it would have more pages and look longer, that was also very annoying. At first I was under the impression that it was just a problem with the copy I got, but apparently not.
The story is told from Jessica's POV but by the 30% or something of the book it's switched up and suddenly we're seeing Trisha's point of view without any warning, this continues to happen through the rest of the book, sometimes in the same chapter and just a different paragraph, which was SO confusing.
Every single character in this book is either boring or annoying but the main character Jessica really puts an effort in making you dislike her. At the beginning of the book she's described as being rich but "not like the others" when throughout this book she just proves that she is indeed like the others. She's childish, spoiled, selfish as hell, she seems to snap at a lot of things for no reason and apparently can't take a "no" for an answer, specially from her parents. She does a lot of stupid things and faces no consequences at all other than a slap in the wrist from her dad. I'm not sure I liked Trisha either, it's just not explored enough and you can't really connect with her character.
The romance was not there. You can't feel the connection between these characters because you can't really see them falling for each other. This is something that is told rather than showed to the reader and that is just something that I absolutely hate in a book. There's a lot of back and forth between the two and it seems like they're always fighting. Completely lost interest in it. This book just really lacks depth.
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
I find it can be hard to find variety in lesbian romance novels, and I was excited to read this one because it sounded different with the time travelling. I really enjoyed it and loved the characters, the writing style wasn’t the best but overall a great read
Thirty Summers is a unique and intriguing time travel romance that retains its lighthearted tone despite discussing some of the struggles faced by a lesbian in 2019 and one in 1989. A breezy read that packs a punch, backed by a creative idea that is executed wonderfully well (the author evidently put a lot of thought into the time travel aspect of her story, and it really shows).
I loved this concept - of Jessica being able to time travel to her seaside town as it was many decades ago, and seeing how her own experiences were different and similar. Her found family in the ‘past’ was sweet and I loved seeing how she came more into herself by finding places, people, and experiences that made her feel happy and fulfilled, if even in a different time. She was relatable and I often found myself nodding along to her inner monologues, but I could understand her thoughts and actions even if they were not relatable to me - which I loved. Trista and Jessica both felt 3D, almost, with the depth and consistent characterisation they had.
The romance was sweet! I just wish we’d seen more of Trista before Chapter… Nine, I think? (Slight spoilers: the night on the boat.) I loved seeing Jess and Trista’s conversations about being queer in their different times and how that shaped their personalities and relationships. Jessica reflected on her own privilege, living in 2019, and I loved the fact that many of her insecurities were addressed and overcome over the course of the book. Trista, too, was a delight - I loved seeing her perspective and her learning to let herself be happy.
The only thing that really detracted my enjoyment of the story was the writing style. I’m a writer myself, so I definitely understand writing in such a way - I did it for years myself, when I was new to writing - but it does bog down the narrative in places as it leads to a stiff, unnatural tone. It wasn’t always enough to pull me out of the story, and I look forward to the sequel, but I think this book definitely could’ve benefited from a few more contractions, more variation in sentence structure. And less adverbs used to describe someone’s speech or actions - more showing and less telling, I suppose.