Jeff Erno's Reviews > Tale of Two Summers

Tale of Two Summers by Brian Sloan
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's review
Oct 30, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: gay-themed-young-adult
Read in September, 2009

Brian Sloan's A Tale of Two Summers chronicles the events of the summer, 2006, in the lives of two fifteen-year-old best friends, Hal and Chuck. Set in Wheaton, MD, and Washington, DC, the friends communicate with one another via an Internet blog. Chuck is a straight drama student who is attending summer theatre camp at the University of Maryland, and Chuck is his gay best friend who's stuck at home in Wheaton for the summer taking driver's training classes.

The blog that the friends share provides a venue for them to communicate their secrets, feelings, and fantasies with one another. Having been inseparable since kindergarten, the pair struggle to cope with the reality that they must spend six whole weeks in which they do not share close physical proximity.

The uniqueness and creativity of this work is noteworthy, and the masterful way in which the author uses his narrators' insights to fully flesh out the secondary characters of the story is nothing less than impressive. Often reviewers are critical of the first person narrative because of the limitations it poses upon character development, disallowing the author the opportunity to really get into the minds of any character beyond the protagonist. With the dual narrators, however, the story provided two perspectives to the reader.

I found the author's humor and sarcasm to be quite entertaining, and I ultimately grew to care about and deeply respect both of the boys depicted in this clever and memorable read. I was particularly moved by the raw honesty and genuineness of their abiding friendship. I loved that the boys were so dramatically different from one another yet also exactly alike in so many ways. They totally got each other, and it felt as if I totally got them as well.

Hal, the gay character, was especially endearing to me. I desperately wanted to shield him from the impending heartache I was certain he would experience from his first-ever summer romance. He seemed so sensitive and vulnerable, yet also so wise beyond his chronological years.

The manner in which Chuck was so nonchalant and unfazed by his best friend's sexual orientation was a wonderful twist to what could have been an all-too-predictable coming of age/coming-out story. Hal's sexual identity never seemed to be an issue, and because of this fact I cannot even say that the book was a coming out story at all.

There are two criticisms that I have concerning the story. Firstly, I found the first few chapters of the book to be extremely slow, so much so that I nearly wanted to abandon the read altogether. About midway into the book, though, I became so engrossed that I could barely put it down. My second word of criticism has to do with the vocabulary employed by these two fifteen-year-olds. I found it to be quite bluntly unbelievable. It was laced with impressive polysyllabic words which I would barely expect to hear from a forty-year-old, let alone a couple of kids. The author did also include a great deal of slang and modern teen jargon, but it seemed more of an attempt to offset the age-inappropriate dialogue of the central characters.

Over all, I loved the book. I grew to care about both characters immensely, and I congratulate the author on his originality and his amazing skill as a writer. For these reasons, I highly recommend A Tale of Two Summers for teens and adults alike.

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Reading Progress

09/15/2009 page 105

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