Title: Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories
Edited by: Stephanie Perkins
Rating: 4/5 ✰
I picked up this book thanks to the book club I’m a part of: bibliophileacademy ♡
If you didn’t know, this is an anthology of short stories, which means it’s a collection of short works by various authors chosen by a compiler; which in this case is Stephanie Perkins.
All in all, it was a satisfying read. It’s definitely heavy on the romance which is perfect for this time of the year. The characters are all in their late teens, about to start their college life or their senior year. There are some very heavy topics discussed as well; depression, coping with one’s sexual orientation, autism, etc. I believe they were handled very well, with the correct amount of seriousness and respect, without ruining the fluffiness of their respective story.
In my lit classes, I’ve learned that when reading an anthology, the first and last stories are the most important. they’re the ones that will impact you the most and will represent the anthology as a whole. This holds true to this particular anthology.
We start off with a big name, one of my favorite authors in fact. Leigh Bardugo’s story, “Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail” is one of the best in the entire anthology. There are elements of magical realism which I enjoyed immensely and the romance is just right, not too strong that it’ll make your teeth ache but not so subtle that it’ll leave you hanging. I honestly did not expect any less from her.
“The End of Love” by Nina LaCour was very sweet but I felt it was too short. It deals with divorce and sexual orientation and how dealing with both can be kind of catastrophic. It was very relatable to me as a reader, my parents are divorced and I’m not straight myself so I could see pieces of myself in LaCour’s characters.
Libba Bray’s story (“Last Stand at the Cinegore”) was probably my favorite. We have Bray’s exceptional dialogue, her three dimensional characters and a touch of horror. I was laughing the whole time I read this and it’s one of those stories I would read over and over again.
My least favorite stories were “Sick Pleasure”, “Souvenirs” and “Love is the Last Resort”. The characters didn’t captivate at all and the stories just fell flat.
To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from Veronica Roth. I’m not a big fan of her writing but her story, “Inertia”, was captivating and sad. I’m a sucker for well written angst.The emotions were very raw in this one and it included some light elements of science fiction that made the story even more unique. So, props to Roth.
“Good Bye and Farewell” wasn’t amazing romance-wise but it was eye-opening. The theme is a bit more serious than others; depression, suicide, etc. I liked the tone of it and I loved that most of characters were black. The media (movies, music, books) tends to exclude PoC from these topics, as if mental illness only affects white people. I appreciated Brandy Colbert’s critique of this harmful stereotype.
I was a bit let down by Cassandra Clare’s story, “Brand New Attraction”. I thought we would get something a bit different from her usual style but there are still demons in it and the plot did get a bit…incesty. In the end, I wasn’t impressed. I also didn’t love Stephanie Perkin’s story, “In Ninety Minutes, Turn North”. I guess my expectations were a bit high and though the story is plenty fluffy and full of angst, the characters weren’t really memorable.
Jennifer E. Smith was definitely the surprise in this anthology. I’ve never read any of her other works and so this short story as kind of my introduction to her style of writing. I kind of fell in love. “A Thousand Ways This Could All Go Wrong” was a very cute story that deals with the complexities of autism while at the same time breaking some stereotypes surrounding the disorder.
The anthology is wrapped up with “The Map of Tiny Perfect Things” by Lev Grossman which was definitely a good call. This a a perfect story for those of you who love theories about time and space and love. It leaves you feeling light and happy and ready to take on the rest of the summer with a smile.