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The Summer My Life Began

3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  1,127 Ratings  ·  205 Reviews
A great summer beach read filled with sunshine, cooking, and—of course—romance!

Elizabeth Margaret--better known as Em--has always known what her life would contain: an internship at her father's firm, a degree from Harvard, and a career as a lawyer. The only problem is, it's not what she wants. So when she gets the opportunity to get away and spend a month with the aunt sh
Paperback, 250 pages
Published May 10th 2012 by Speak
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(showing 1-30)
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Mar 15, 2012 Limonessa rated it it was ok
You might have noticed that I shelved this in my 3-neurons-involved shelf (and please note, it is not a shelf with a derogatory purpose, it's just dedicated to vanilla, fluffy, light reads I seem to enjoy so much when I feel overcome by... well, life). Most books that end up in that shelf are books I actually liked. That being said, you barely need 2 neurons for this book. Actually, make that 1.
And I'm quite disappointed to be honest, because the idea wasn't bad at all.

Margaret Elizabeth belong
The disappointing and/or abandoned reviews that I read before picking up this book should have been the biggest hint that maybe I should avoid this book. But I decided to give it a shot who knew maybe I would end up liking it?

Elizabeth Margaret or “Em” has her life planned out for her; she is a perfect student who will do an internship at her father’s law firm over the summer and then go to Harvard to study law. She does everything she is told by her parents and grandmother, but Em is given the
Let me get one thing out of the way: I love summer books. They are my favourite go-to when I need an uplifting story that features the sea, beaches, sand on one’s skin, sun and maybe a nice summer romance.
Now, there are certain types of summer books that are not particularly deep, but that does not necessarily keep me from enjoying them. This book, though, barely even scratched the surface, and combined with a rather lacklustre writing style, it didn’t really do anything for me.

I am not saying t
Maureen Johnson's 13 Little Blue Envelopes-lite was the first thing to came to my mind when I opened this book. Both books are about a young girl just graduating and getting a surprising invitation in mail. For Ginny it was her dead aunt inviting her to London with 13 little blue envelopes that were supposed to guide her through an adventure. For Em, Elizabeth Margaret, it's a postcard from an aunt she didn't know she had to come and spend the summer with her on an island.

Both girls accept the c
Mar 08, 2012 Tatiana marked it as lost-interest
Shelves: ya
Available now for EVERYONE on NG.
Mar 24, 2012 Lauren rated it really liked it
Check out my book blog for more reviews!

The only reason why I was able to get this before it came out was because it was available for everyone on NetGalley, which is always nice. I was very excited to get started on my very first Review For Publisher (kind of)!

The Summer My Life Began is the cute, summer-y contemporary romance you’d expect it to be from the title & cover.
I liked it, but it was way too predictable. I’m not usually that person who knows at the beginning of a Law and Order ep
Mar 11, 2012 Katy rated it it was ok
2.5 stars - I didn't like this book at first, but it ended up growing on me. The book has a lot of potential because the story is obviously there. I just wish it wasn't so surface deep.

The book started out really dull. Here you have Em in a rich, stuck up family that has high expectations of her. But a lot of it was just surface deep, and you don't really get more than just that. And I felt there were a bunch of senseless, useless scenes that just dragged out the beginning when it should have be
Elizabeth Margaret, or simply called Em, is a girl with passion in cooking. However, the option of telling her uptight and prestigious family that she wants to pursue a career in cooking is off-limits. Her family would be furious, and Em doesn't want to hurt her family's feeling. Being a chef is not even possible in her wildest imagination.

This is her last summer holiday before she goes to Harvard and follows her father’s path as a lawyer, when a letter from her aunt arrives. Em doesn’t even kno
Jaime Arkin
The Summer My Life Began Em has spent her life trying to match the perfection that her parents and grandmother expect of her. She’s graduated as valedictorian, she’s going to spend the summer working for her father’s law firm and then she’s off to college to pursue a career that they have picked out for her.
Still it never seems like enough.
Then upon her graduation, she receives a letter from an Aunt she’s never heard of, offering to the chance to come spend the summer in the Outer Banks at her
Mar 24, 2012 April rated it liked it
I read The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland on the bus ride to BEA and I have to say, it is a great read while traveling or a beach book. I found it to be absorbing, but not to require a whole lot from me on my end, except a bit of attention. To further define what I mean, a travel or beach read, to me, is a light book that entertains you while making the ride pass by rather quickly. It’s not exactly a life changer of a book.
Read the rest of my review here
Jul 27, 2014 Aysha rated it it was amazing
Mar 13, 2017 McKenzi rated it it was ok
This book was literally a train wreck. It had so much potential but the writing was just horrible. Nothing was described but told. The storyline jumped around and just never made sense.
Emily (Book Jems)
As seen on Ed and Em's Reviews!

4/5 Stars!

The Summer My Life Began is a fast, light read that's perfect for a day of relaxing in the summer sun!

Elizabeth Margaret, or Em as she's referred to in most of the story, and her sister are born into a world of prestige. As they grow, they must learn to meet their family's expectations: perfect grades, ivy league education and a high-standing job like a lawyer or a doctor. All Em wants is to be a chef and get away from the high stress of her family's expe
Michelle (Much Loved Books)
Apr 08, 2012 Michelle (Much Loved Books) rated it really liked it

I don't tend to pick up and read this type of book but the synopsis had me intrigued so I requested a copy and was accepted and I am very happy to say that I really enjoyed The Summer My Life Began.

The main protagonist, Elizabeth Margaret, or Em as she likes to be called, lives with her Mother, Father and younger sister Gwyneth.  Her parents have extremely high expectations of both of their daughters and have their lives mapped out for them, ivy league education, doctor or lawyer
Mar 08, 2012 Sandra rated it liked it
Recommends it for: YA readers who love romance with a bit of mystery
From the blurb:

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, t
Jan 25, 2012 Nina rated it liked it
Originally posted on

You know how certain books just scream “Take me to the beach with you!!”? The Summer My Life Began is one of those. I love serious books as much as anyone, but some times I really just want something light and fun, something that lets me escape everything for a couple of hours, and this book did exactly that.

I felt like the first chapters of Elizabeth Margaret being around her family and explaining about their ridiculously high standards of living, and even hig
Jun 03, 2014 Katja rated it it was amazing
Shelves: jugenbücher
Em ist eigentlich die Traumvorstellung ihrer Eltern, sie ist Klassenbeste und soll nach dem Abschluss Jura studieren und in die Kanzlei des Vaters einsteigen, nur leider achten die Eltern nicht darauf, was Em selber will. Also sie eine Einladung zur ihrer Tante auf eine Insel bekommt, kann sie nicht widerstehen und lernt dort kenne, was es heisst, sich selbst für etwas zu entscheiden...

Also zuerst hat mich das Cover angesprochen, es sieht so nach Sommer, Sonne und Freiheit aus, passt auch sehr g
Jun 07, 2012 Touloulou rated it liked it
Shelves: yum-reads

I wanted to like this book, since it had an amazing setting (the Outter Banks islands) and talked about food, which I always enjoy in a book, but the characters were shallow, I couldn't care less about the love story and the happy ending was just too much. At least it was fun to read in the summer.

Je m'attendais à une lecture de midinette parfaite pour l'été : le livre se passe sur l'ile d'Outter Banks qui a l'air paradisiaque, où l'héroine passe l'été au B&B de sa tante. Surprise, la nourri
Apr 07, 2012 Shannon rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
I will admit when I first started the book I thought there was no way I was going to really be able to connect with Elizabeth Margaret. For starters, her name is “Elizabeth Margaret.” I don’t mean to sound rude but if that was my name I feel sure I would not actually expect people to say all of that every time they spoke to me. It turns out, it wasn’t really her that insisted on the use of her full name but her parents. As a matter of fact, I realized that most of the things that made me feel so ...more
Jen Halligan
Dec 07, 2011 Jen Halligan rated it really liked it
Originally posted on A Book and a Latte:

The Summer My Life Began is such a fun read! It’s a wonderful story about self-discovery, being true to yourself, and family. This is the perfect book to read by the pool or on the beach, or if you just need a vacation.

Elizabeth Margaret is living out the plan her parents laid out for her ever since she can remember. She secretly wants to be a chef, but her parents disapprove. When she’s invited to spend the summer in the Outer Banks with an aunt she’s nev
Mar 24, 2012 Bookworm1858 rated it liked it
Given the title and cover, this seemed like a cute summer read so even though it is not officially summer yet, I wanted to give this a shot. I was able to read through it in only a few sittings one day due to the brevity.

However I wasn't really able to connect with the characters, which ultimately hindered my enjoyment. Main character Elizabeth Margaret has always done what is expected of her and is prepared for an internship before going to Harvard and then becoming a lawyer like her father. Sh
Apr 07, 2012 Iffath rated it it was ok
This was an instant request on Netgalley when I first saw it, because hello?! SUMMER. But unfortunately I didn't really fall in love with it.

The Summer My Life Began had a good concept, but I felt like the story wasn't executed very well and consequently, it fell a little flat for me. There was a lot of potential to be a really fun summer read, and I really wish it had fulfilled that, rather than being the clichéd, wannabe-mystery I thought it was.

I was a bit torn on Em. I could relate to her pa
Amber (Books of Amber)
Mar 28, 2012 Amber (Books of Amber) rated it did not like it
Wasn't a fan of this at all. It was so boring, and writing was very wooden with lots of telling instead of showing.


I really liked the sound of The Summer My Life Began when I looked up the premise on GoodReads. I'm really into contemporary novels right now, and I love summer books so I was really looking forward to reading it and I was so, so happy when I saw it was available on NetGalley. Unfortunately, the poor writing style and the wooden characters meant that the book didn't live up to
Rachel Marks
May 07, 2012 Rachel Marks rated it it was amazing
I was asked to review this book as part of a JKS Communications Blog Tour. I am so happy that I got on this tour, because if I had not, I would have never have read this amazing book. Normally I tend to stay in my comfort zone of reading young adult paranormal romances. Once in a while I will venture out of that comfort zone and read something else.

The Summer My Life Began was a giant leap out my comfort zone since it is a young adult contemporary romance. For some reason I have avoided this sec
A Canadian Girl
Nov 22, 2011 A Canadian Girl rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2012, speak, 2-stars
When I got The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland, I wanted a nice, fluffy read. I didn’t think my expectations were high – and yet I was still left disappointed.

Although the writing isn’t bad, if I could use one word to describe everything about The Summer My Life Began, it would be “blah.” Since a one word review isn’t going to cut it, here’s why The Summer My Life Began wasn’t my ideal beach read:

- The main character barely goes through any adversity. It’s obvious that Em is going to e
Stephanie A.
It was very timely to read this the day after coming back from a B&B myself, which may or may not be responsible for why I enjoyed this more than anticipated. Although my stay was in the opposite season and on a lake rather than the ocean, I loved reading about the house, its history and current staff, the small town, the beachfront, her wonderful aunt, and her prodigal cooking skills being put to excellent use as a sous-chef in the B&B's kitchen.

It might have been an even better story
Victoria Potter
Jul 18, 2013 Victoria Potter rated it it was amazing
Fantastic summer read! Read this in four hours and I could not believe the plot twists! A must read for any contemporary summer read lovers.
Faye {Daydreaming_Star}
Mar 11, 2012 Faye {Daydreaming_Star} rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, net-galley-title
This review was originally posted on my blog on May 23rd 2012, here

This is a novel that captured me not from the first page, but from the title. I loved it. It sounded so… inviting. Instinctively it encouraged me to read the summary and I knew that this was a book I simply had to read. Now, after finishing that book, I can say with a degree of finality that it was one of the best decisions I have made in regards to picking a book to review. I wasn’t highly sure of what to expect with this book.
Daisy Tan
Dec 18, 2016 Daisy Tan rated it really liked it
For all of you out there who want a intimate romance, dramatic story, and lovable characters, this is the book for you.
Also, after reading this book, I would like to visit their island and have a taste in their cuisine!~
Mar 09, 2012 Melissa rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012-reads
This is a sweet little coming of age book that was nice to read. It tackles a common theme in young adult books -- breaking free from the expectations and trappings of our past to discover who we really are. This is a story about Em, a recent high school graduate who is a good girl. She has lived up to every expectation that her parents and grandmother has thrown her way. She was valedictorian and will soon be leaving for Harvard in the fall where she will study law before joining her father's p ...more
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Shannon Greenland is the award winning author of several novels including the teen spy series, THE SPECIALISTS, and the YA romances, THE SUMMER MY LIFE BEGAN and SHADOW OF A GIRL. She also writes thrillers under S. E. Green and lives off the coast of Florida with her very grouchy dog. Find her at
More about Shannon Greenland...

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“She raised her sad blue eyes to mine. "It's going to be so boring here without you. And I'm going to have to deal with Grandmother on my own! You need to e-mail, text, call, send smoke signals--whatever--and tell me everything you're doing."
I laughed. "Yes, I know. Every day. I promise.”
“In front of us, the ocean stretched for eternity. Around us, reggae mussy floated through the air. In our drying clothes and still-damp hair, we ate junk food and talked.
At some point we finished and went for a long walk in the sand. We picked up shells, laughed, and talked. Before I knew it, the sun was going down and we went back to the van. We lay side by side, stretched out on the blanket. When the sun dropped completely below the horizon, we let the moon illuminate us.”
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