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The Other Side of Summer

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Summer is trying to recover from a tragedy, but it seems impossible when her family is falling apart around her. Having an extraordinary best friend like Mal helps a little, but Summer's secret source of happiness is a link to the past: one very special guitar.

Now her dad's plan to save them is turning Summer's life upside down again. The next thing she knows, they've moved to the other side of the world.

In Australia, Summer makes an unlikely friend, who seems to be magically connected to her guitar. Is this for real? Has a mysterious boy been sent to help Summer? Or could it be the other way around?

This sweet and spellbinding story about family, friends and believing in yourself will warm your heart.

313 pages, Paperback

First published May 30, 2016

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About the author

Emily Gale

27 books94 followers
Emily Gale has worked in the children’s & YA book industry for over twenty years. In London she worked as an editor for Penguin and Egmont, and later as a freelance manuscript consultant and pre-school book writer. In Melbourne she worked with the late literary agent Sheila Drummond, finding new children’s and YA authors; she has reviewed for Bookseller and Publisher, spent several happy years at independent bookshop Readings as a children’s buyer, during which time she was instrumental in establishing the Readings Children’s Book Prize, and worked in two school libraries. Emily’s writing includes novels for teenagers like Girl, Aloud, Steal My Sunshine, and I Am Out With Lanterns, as well as books for 10+ including The Other Side of Summer, Elsewhere Girls, and The Goodbye Year. Her junior fiction character is Eliza Boom, which is published all around the world.

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5 stars
147 (29%)
4 stars
198 (39%)
3 stars
130 (25%)
2 stars
24 (4%)
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7 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 86 reviews
Profile Image for Kelly (Diva Booknerd).
1,106 reviews299 followers
July 3, 2017
Rarely does a middle grade novel capture the beauty and realism of a young teen coming of age, but The Other Side of Summer was simply beautiful. Summer is grieving for not only what she's lost, but for her mother who is overcome and seemingly unable to make her way back to her family. It explores the effects of grief and depression from a thirteen year old perspective and is incredibly poignant as Summer feels as though she has lost her mother through the process.

Our house stirred and breathed with us like old places do. I imagined us four freezing in our separate roosting spots. We, the Jackmans, were never called on unexpectedly anymore.

The sadness was palpable and made my heart ache. Summer's father is Australian and to save the frail threads that are holding his family together, he wants to move back to Australia and to start a new life. Older sister Wren is livid, but Summer is sick of feeling the heavy sadness that surrounds her family and reluctantly agrees to the move, leaving her best friend grasping onto her friend that has already emotionally left.

The only thing that matters now to Summer is her newly acquired Ibanez Artwood guitar, a promise to herself to keep it safe and it's down by the creek where Summer learns to play once more. Gabe is drawn to Summer by the music she creates, but there's something strange about Gabe that Summer can't seem to grasp. He can't remember where he is, nor does he know why he's inexplicably drawn to her.

It's through Gabe where Summer begins to heal, her once heavy heart has found a kindred spirit and Summer is about to discover how true that is.

I adored it. It was so beautifully written and enchanting, Summer's character is a young lady who is on the verge of finding herself again after her family has been torn apart by tragedy and begins to reluctantly enjoy life once more.

Magical realism is quite often explored within middle grade and coming of age stories, but none more so beautiful than The Other Side of Summer. I loved seeing Summer explore her new surroundings, the neighbours next door and their intrusive nine year old daughter, to leaning the language and unique Australian slang. It was utterly charming and only endeared me to the Jackman family even more so.

Enchanting and wonderfully written, The Other Side of Summer was simply beautiful. A charming coming of age story that bridges the gap between middle grade and young adult and a poignant and hopeful story for the young and young at heart. I loved it immensely.
Profile Image for Ryan Buckby.
640 reviews83 followers
June 2, 2016
i really enjoyed this book a quick and easy read but the story was good enough to have myself immersed into the story. I won't give to much away because on goodreads it says the book still hasn't been released which is weird because where i got it from already had a heap out.

The story centres around Summer as her father decides to move his family from England all the way to Australia. Summer of course being a 13 year old doesn't take the news very well and neither does her mother or older sister for that matter. Emily gale wrote from the perspective of a 13 year old girl which can be hard in itself but she pulled it off with no problem. Emily wrote Summer as believable as you can get because it felt like you were in the head of a 13 year old girl. One of my favourite characters in the book was Summer's older sister Wren i just loved this characters dialogue at times because she could be witty and funny, i did have some lol moments with that character.

I loved the meaning behind the guitar and what it represented but i won't spoil what it represents i'll just leave that for you to find out for yourself.

this story was sad, funny and pulled at my heartstrings, the story left you with the feeling of hope and magic and its pitch-perfect feel to make one really good story to read.
Profile Image for Steph Cuthbert.
Author 2 books21 followers
August 31, 2016
I'm probably going to have to come back and write a proper review later, because my heart is too sore and my vision blurry with tears.
The Other Side of Summer struck such a deep, beautiful and aching chord within me. The tragedy of such a loss, the way the family splintered like broken glass, the coming-of-age, and the bittersweet feeling of losing someone and finding them again in a new way, finding their other side- I felt it all so deeply.
Summer is so fragile and lost to herself, I could feel her pain of growing up with the turn of each page. Summer's relationships were rich and varied and beautiful in their own ways. I particularly loved the way Summer and Wren shifted around each other, taking on new roles.
The ending was perfectly imperfect, not being tied up too neatly, falling short of a happy ending, and landing in that magical place where things are better and the future is looking a little shinier.
Emily Gale has written a haunting but warm story, with skill, incredible imagery, and an authentic voice.
The Other Side of Summer is a book I can't wait to share with my daughters.
88 reviews3 followers
May 30, 2016
Lovely! Great for fans of Rebecca Stead, The Other Side of Summer sits in that gray area between children's fiction and YA, and it does it perfectly!
Profile Image for Libby Armstrong.
53 reviews8 followers
April 2, 2016
At 13, Summer is learning how to find herself, and find her way back into her family, after tragedy is the catalyst for moving to Australia. Gale skilfully captures the essence of Summer's grief and isolation, yet eschews woe. Instead she gives us a compelling plot of an unlikely friendship between Summer and Gabe that may hold the clues to what happened that fateful day.
Profile Image for Sass.
364 reviews30 followers
April 6, 2016
I love this book. Pitch-perfect middle-grade magic realism.
September 2, 2016
The Other Side Of Summer, written by Emily Gale in 2016, starts in a town in London where we meet our protagonist Summer and her family who are grieving over the loss of her oldest brother Floyd. Her mother has clinical depression, her sister is an angry self-absorbed teenager and her dad is just trying to put the broken pieces of the family back together. When Floyd’s guitar is salvaged from the wreckage of the bombing and brought to their home Summer vows to learn to play as well as Floyd did. When Summer comes home one day she finds out that her dad plans to whisk her away to live in Melbourne, Australia on the other side of the world. The underlying themes of change, grief, friendship and finding yourself beautifully capture the essence of a thirteen-year-old girl’s views on life “The definition of a good day had changed since Floyd had gone, but I’d had one today”.
Summer makes the decision to channel her inner hatred as if she is trying to punish her family for the recent circumstances but she gets lost in her new personality. Suddenly, she becomes acquaintances with a mysterious boy who seem as if he is the only person who can save summer from herself. Summer and the boy Gabe get caught up in the mystery of what brought them together and how they can help each other. Soon summer finds out the truth about Gabe but is she ready for what she might find?
Summer’s battle between old and new really expresses the effect that the previously haunting events have had on her. The book creates an amazingly accurate idea of what grieving and suffering can do but also expresses her development as a character terrifyingly well. It paints an extraordinary picture for the reader which makes the story clear and easy to understand. A strong example of this is evident in the following quote; “The doorbell pierced the grim quiet of our house”.
The characters, especially Summer have relatable quirks which help to enthrall the reader. The dialogue captures the spirit of a thirteen-year-old girl and makes for enjoyable reading. The character’s relationship are enjoyable to read about, for example this is Summer’s opinion on Gabe, “Gabe was a good listener and when he spoke he chose his words very carefully”. Another good example of a relationship between characters would be between Summer and Bee. Summer and her dog Bee start investigating the mysterious circumstances in which she met Gabe. “Bee knew exactly where she was going. She trotted ahead of me, looking back to make sure I was following”. It was beautiful to watch the relationship between Bee and Summer grow because they were both such delightful characters to read about, because they both have extremely charming personalities (even though Bee’s a dog). The links between events and characters become an extremely important part of the mystery as well as objects that are frequently mentioned thorough the story. Emily Gale perfectly illustrates the characters through her words.
The author uses metaphor and similes beautifully, making reading a wonderful experience for the reader, this includes “I could taste how angry I was”. Personification was also used beautifully throughout this book, things like “The marshmallow pillow cupped my head”. The language conventions used in this book play a massive part in painting a picture of Summers universe.
The Other Side of Summer is a beautiful YA read for those how love realism and magic and love a tear jerker. It has a wonderful plot with lots of surprises and mystery along the way. Emily Gales extraordinary writing style guarantees a stupendous reading experience. This book is definitely one you will never forget and will always stay in the back of your mind. It is beautiful, touching and an overall success which will leave you craving more.
Rating: 5/5
Profile Image for Tara.
598 reviews3 followers
March 13, 2017
That was different! Not at all what I was expecting and I wasn't totally connected to the story, but I did connect with Summer and what she was going through and I absolutely fell in love with Bee..... what an awesome dog :)
3 1/2 stars.
Profile Image for Starsimmer23.
1 review
September 2, 2016
The Other Side of Summer, written by Emily Gale in 2016, is about a young girl overcoming the grief of her brother’s death. Summer is a teenage girl from England. She had to leave her old life, her best friend and her mum back in England as Summer, her dad and sister leave for Australia to start a new life. Summer has a very special guitar that connects her to her old family and life.
Floyd is the musician of the family, but when a bomb blew up at the train station in London, the only thing left of him was his guitar the Ibanez Atwood. His mother has had the hardest time of all the family overcoming Floyds death and was hardly part of the family anymore.
After Floyds death his father decided to ship all the family off to Australia where he had grown up. His other “great plan” was to get a dog which was later named Bee. Wren and summer were reluctant to go but they had to go as their father said that it would be better for the family to leave the place with all the grief and sadness.
Originally Summer did not want to leave the place she had grown up and had lots of great moments with her family, as she learned to love Australia she found that the people were great and she had Gabe and the Ibanez Atwood.
All the characters were really well described and the book was highly believable and could be seen as a real life situation. A character who seems to be very relatable is definitely Summer. She was also the main character but definitely the most relatable because she is the one you can see yourself in her shoes and seeing through her eyes into the world. Sophie was what some people would call the villain of the book but if you dig a bit deeper you can find why she did it - because she is younger but is very manipulative. In this book there is no real hero but technically Gabe could be the hero because he seems to be the answer to all Summer’s problems, he gave her a distraction to her own problems to help with his.
The book is written in the eyes of a 13-year-old girl, so the language is not very difficult, but it is a really descriptive book and goes into detail in a minimalist way. “ghost-boy, creek-boy”. The chapters in the book are fairly long but were a pleasure to get through. The genre of this book is magic realism and is sticking to that really well. “2:00am was when I cut the guitar strings that’s when he woke up”

Overall the Other Side of Summer was an emotional book, in depth description is precisely what this book had, the characters were extremely well crafted so they could easily fit in with the real world. The book is a great book for ages 10-13. The rating for the book that is given 4.5/5.
Profile Image for Michael Earp.
Author 3 books33 followers
June 24, 2016
A gorgeous book about grieving, healing and guitar, with the perfect dash of magic realism.
Profile Image for Jovana.
5 reviews
September 9, 2017
Heartbreaking and an inspirational book. Fell in love with the mysterious and twists.
Profile Image for M. Benesh.
178 reviews21 followers
December 26, 2017
This book took me by surprise. It never tried too hard and it never seemed forced. I think this is probably one of the most impressive representations of a teen girl and grief that I've come across in a book. To top it off, these themes mixed well with a mystery element that was introduced very late in the story. I didn't expect that aspect to work out in the end, but it did.

I strongly recommend this book for emotional literacy for preteens/younger teens.
Profile Image for Paige.
38 reviews3 followers
September 15, 2022
Omg this was so good. I normally don’t like books like this but it was so good. I like how it wrote grief in a different way than most authors do this book showed the anger that comes with grief and it was beautiful. I love the way the book showed that grief affects everyone differently. I’m just absolutely in love with this book and the way it was written.
2 reviews
August 13, 2016
This outstanding book took you into the world of a girl called Summer. Summer and her family are trying to recover from a tragic incident that happened in England. But Summer finds it hard as her family can’t move on. Having her best friend Mal helps. Her father has a plan to try and save her family, but Summer doesn't agree on it. Before she knows what’s going on she’s on a plane to the other side of the world, Australia. With her life left back in England, her mood and emotions turn and Summer is now an always angry, snappy person. Fortunately, she makes a new friend at school, Becky. An unlikely friend is also made. This person seems to be connected to her guitar. She has to find out who this boy is, and why he keeps appearing.

This story really made you feel as if you were Summer, a 13-year-old girl. For me I felt as if this story really worked. With lots of twists and turns along her journey it made the read really exciting. It was the type of book I didn't want to put down. The storyline was believable with a little bit of magic. The book had many themes. Some of themes were courage, betrayal, depression, doubt and perseverance. Summer is basically the reason the story has these themes. I won’t say how these themes are covered, read the book and you’ll find out!

Summer’s mum is a depressed person and hardly talks. Her father is the opposite, a lively, energetic and loving person. And her sister, well, she’s a funny character. She’s always moody and she always snaps at Summer. When they get to Australia she is completely different and is always happy. Her best friend Mal is very supportive, and Becky is very similar.

To be honest I loved this book and I can’t think of any reasons not to. I enjoyed this book so much because it was easy to read but had lots of detail. While this story may have been sad there was always something funny, exciting or new happening, making me want to keep reading. You really got to feel as if you were living the life of Summer Jackman. I could go on and on about this book!

This book would be suitable for ages 11 and above and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a good read.
Profile Image for Terri .
244 reviews24 followers
October 12, 2016
Originally posted on Le Book Chronicles

Looking at the cover and title of this book, I was sure t would be a cute fluffy young adult contemporary, with some romance and friend drama. That sort of thing. But boy was I wrong!! I wasn't expecting it to cover such a dark topic. Basically, this story follows 13 year old Summer who's brother has recently been killed in a London bombing. The story then follows Summer and her family and how they deal with that. Mind you, this all happens within the first 50ish pages of the book so it's not a spoiler. Then, Summer's dad decides what they need to heal is a new start, so he moves them to Australia! There, Summer meets a boy aaaaaand.... that' all I will say.

For the most part, I did enjoy this book. I felt like there was such a unique twist that I hadn't encountered in any other book. Which I liked. My issue though was leading up to this twist was very confusing. I didn't really understand what was happening, which is good and bad. Good because it made me want to keep reading, bad because I was getting frustrated.

I do think that this book was probably suited for a younger person rather than my 21 year old self. As the main character is only 13, I couldn't really relate to her in the same way I could relate to characters in New Adult. Having said that, it does deal with a sensitive issue of family death, so I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to every 13 year old out there.

I don't think there is anything else I can really comment on without giving away spoilers, so I'll end the review here. I enjoyed reading this story, and I was particularly happy with how it ended. I do recommend this to people in high school, but I don't think it is as captivating for people my age.
Profile Image for Tien.
1,789 reviews67 followers
June 9, 2016
I seem to encounter a lot of grief in my YA readings the past month. I am wondering whether I am being particularly sensitive as I didn’t really notice this much grief previously. I’m not struggling with it myself at the present so I’m not quite sure what’s really going on! Maybe the universe is telling me to brace up or something...

This is one of the books included in the goodie bag from TeenCon 2016 (Sydney Writer’s Festival) in the form of an Uncorrected Proof which did have some corrections to be done. From the title and cover alone, I did not pick this as a tragedy driven sort of book. It looked kind of ‘summery’ to me but Summer is actually the name of the girl. I guess it could’ve described who she really was before tragedy struck and grief rent everything asunder.

Her parents are struggling with their own sadness though her mother seemed to have drowned and unable to help the rest of the family. Her father is doing his best and by this, he is transplanting them to a new place on the far side of the world. Things went quite awry and Summer felt her old self buried deeper inside of her. There was someone else who needed her help though... but he was a mystery she needed to solve with help from an unlikely corner.

Summer is about 12-13 years old in this story so this book is suitable for the younger audience. There was a particular bit about Wren which I found totally curious in being inserted in this story and which parents may wish to be aware of in case it sparks some interesting questions aside from the grief theme. Otherwise, I found the book to be completely satisfying, sad and a bit angry but also sweet.
Profile Image for Destini .
67 reviews32 followers
August 31, 2017
While I respect the premise of this novel, it is a flop in my opinion. Why? The writing overall was inconsistent in some areas and made the plot hard to follow. I respect the author's use of magic realism but it was very confusing and made me question if I should even attempt to finish it. The author did a lot more telling than showing which hurt the story. The only thing that I found positive about this novel is how the characters expressed their grief. I respect the author's effort, but this was not my cup of tea.
Profile Image for Rebecca Ryan.
Author 1 book3 followers
June 6, 2016
This is a magical book.

It is pitched at the middle grade reader and I bought it with my 11 year old in mind. One chapter in and I wasn't thinking of it as a YA or children's book, it was simply a story that had captivated me and I wanted to keep reading to check everyone was going to be okay!

It is a story about belonging and longing and surviving in what can sometimes be a heartbreakingly sad world. There is sibling love and sibling conflict and families of all shapes and sizes.

And there is Summer, the 13 year old girl, who is the heart and hope of the story.

I highly recommend this book for adults and children in that 11-14 range. I think it would be a great book for parents to read before/after or with their middle grade reader. All the topics covered are handled appropriately for this age. The beautiful and deft writing shows the experience of an author who knows her readers well. As a parent, I know difficult and maybe awkward conversations can flow from books with tragedies such as this one, but these are conversations worth having and all the gentler for stemming from fiction than real life.

1 review
August 17, 2016
The other side of summer is a book about a girl named Summer who is a 13 year old girl that is trying to recover from a loss of her brother Floyd. She has an amazing best friend, mal who helps her a little bit in her situation about how she has to move to Australia. Summers secret of happiness comes from one very special guitar left from her brother.
The characters in this book are genuinely kind and nice. Summers best friend mal is caring and very helpful because she helps summer so much. Summers mum is still recovering from the tragedy in the book and is pretty sad.
I liked this book and I felt like I could connect to it as I read. It lead me on and made me want to read more of it. It wasn’t as much as an exciting book it was more of a mystery kind of book. I liked how this story is for basically any age I felt like adults could read this book and love it as much as kids do too.
I didn’t really have a negative about this book but I feel like some of the characters in the book could have appeared more in the book than others. Overall this book is good and I recommend this book to anyone. I give this book a 4.5/5
Profile Image for Margo Berendsen.
579 reviews80 followers
January 27, 2018
This bittersweet story sure started with a beginning that hooked me:

The doorbell pierced the grim quiet of our house. Nobody moved. I knew this though I couldn't see the others. Our house stirred and breathed with us like old places do. I imagined us four freezing in our separate roosting spots. We, the Jackmans, were never called on unexpectedly anymore.
The doorbell rang again. This time I heard the house fidget. As I poked my head around the doorway of the living room I saw the others coming out of their hiding places. Dad and Wren downstairs like me, and Mum on the upstairs landing, peering over the railing. I told myself it would be postman at the door, or someone selling dishcloths. It was the police.
"Mr Jackman?"
"I'm Detective Patel. Sorry to disturb you on a Saturday." She spoke gently and with concerned eyes, which we were used to.
By now, my sister was beside me. The police officers gave her a look. Most people did.
They'd come to return our lost property: an Ibanez Artwood. It was dark brown guitar with a burst of orange around the bridge that bled outward like a fierce sunset. We'd thought it lost forever. It was supposed to have been blown to pieces, turned to ashes. But there it was, whole.

Here's a bit of a mystery: Summer and Wren's brother was killed by a terrorist bomb in the London underground system. How did his guitar survive completely unscathed? It's not a fluke; there's an interesting reason that is revealed at the end, not exactly a twist, but enough of a surprise to make me very impressed with this book, not to mention that the book is full of this heartfelt writing with lovely sensory descriptions.

The writing about the pain of loss is also very genuine. This author is no stranger to pain and the isolating effect of grief.

My 13 year old daughter actually picked this book out of the library and is reading it for home school. I was so impressed by her choice! This book raises the question, is it a good idea to leave what is familiar (and painful) after a trauma and move somewhere far away to start over fresh? I asked her to pick a side and defend her position and right now she's leaning toward the side that it's not a good idea to run away from grief, as Summer and Wren's father does by forcing the family to sell the house the girls grew up in London and move to the opposite side of the earth, to Melbourne, Australia.

That was initially my take on it, too. After our family's loss, we opted to stay in our home and hometown and to make an effort not to isolate. But we had a tremendous support group - dozens of friends (many from our church, but others, too) who checked in on us without being overwhelming or intrusive. This fictional family didn't appear to have any sort of support; only Summer's friend Mal is mentioned trying to reach out, and not surprisingly Summer (only barely 13 years old) pushed away Mal because she didn't know how to handle her grief, and then on top of grief she also felt guilt for pushing her friend away.

So the family runs away, even splits up in the process (more heartache), but the book does an excellent (not heavy handed) job of showing how we can't ever really run away from our trauma, and how even our efforts to run away from something actually bring it - in some ways - closer. The author also does a good job of bringing around the slow realization that somethings just can't be healed, like the mother's depression, until accepted, until the pressure is taken off. Acceptance.

The ending shows some healing, but at the same time (I wish I could find this spot again to quote it) acknowledges that healing is illusive. Perhaps a better word for healing is actually hope.

The setting of Summer's grandma's house by the sea in Cornwall was my favorite part. I couldn't help retyping this part to share:
Wren and I were on narrow single beds at either end of a long room. Although the air in here was wintry, I knew the beds would be toasty. Gran had flask-shaped ceramic hot water bottles that were even older than she was. The mattresses were as soft and deep as cake, with layers of sheets and blankets tucked in so tightly that we could only get under them by sliding in from the top. The marshmallow pillows cupped my head, and Mum even came in to say goodnight.
When Mum was sitting on Wren's bed, I could hear my sister talking in away that made her sound little again. I got a sprinkling of a feeling that happiness was almost in reach. Mum's replies to Wren were low and quiet like a violin bow pulled along the deepest string.
Then it was my turn. Mum sat so close to me that the covers tightened uncomfortably, but I wasn't going to say a word about that.
"It's nice here," I whispered, so that it could be just between us. Mum nodded and smiled. She kissed me on the cheek before and rested her head on the pillow. The tip of her nose grazed my ear, and I could feel her breathing me in. I only cared about Mum and me in that moment.
When she sat up, she traced her thumb over my forehead. I wanted to tell her that we should stay here in Cornwall instead of going to Melbourne, but I didn't want to make her sad again.
I lay awake for a while afterward. It was darker and quieter here but it wasn't lonely like home. Gran's house felt like it was the boss of us. It told us that we could go to sleep inside of it and turst that everything would be okay in the morning.

My only uncertainty with this book was the inclusion of a bit of magic (or maybe better described not as magic but unreality) which didn't really fit in, especially as it came sort of late into the story. But when I reached the end of the story it made more sense.
Profile Image for Julie Garner.
667 reviews26 followers
June 3, 2016
I enjoyed reading The Other Side of Summer. It was a beautiful book about a young girl finding herself through grief and loss. After moving to the other side of the world, Summer has to learn to live without her brother who died in tragic circumstances and a mother who has lost her self in grief and stays behind when the family moves.
Summer goes from a young girl who agrees with everyone...to a teenager caught up in her own grief and struggling to connect with anyone. Until she meets Gabe. Brought together by her brother's most prized possession, does Gabe help Summer or is it the other way around?
Profile Image for Lilly.
25 reviews15 followers
January 30, 2017
To be honest, I thought this book was going to be a love story and in a way it was but I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that this was not a romance. It's about a girl named Summer Jackman who's brother has died and her dad wants to start a new so he moves the family to Australia. I was hooked as soon as I read the first page, I love novels about grief and I love novels that are British so this was perfect and the main character, Summer, was a great character to read.I was a bit confused with all the crazy stuff that happens in the middle of the novel and was going to give it four stars for this but the ending was so beautiful I just had to give it five.
1,060 reviews
July 7, 2016
I read this in virtually one sitting as I couldn't put it down. Great characters and strange happenings!
Loved it!
1 review
September 2, 2016
The Other Side of Summer, written by Emily Gale in 2016, is set in the present era. The story surrounds a 13-year-old girl and her family, who are trying to recover from a tragedy, but it seems impossible when her family is falling apart around her. But her secret source of happiness is a link to the past: one very special guitar. This pitch-perfect story is full of hope and magic, and is exquisite and unforgettable.

Emily Gale is the author of this wonderful book. She has been involved in the children’s book industry for nearly twenty years and has worked as an editor, reviewer, talent finder and literary award judge. Emily has written two novels for teenagers – Girl, Aloud and Steal My Sunshine – and Eliza Boom’s Diary for younger readers. Emily was inspired to write The Other Side of Summer from being so far away from home and family. Her mind was often occupied with the concepts of home, belonging and displacement.

Summer Jackman is a 13-year-old, that is prickly, sad, funny – and absolutely loveable. Summer has a really strong relationship with Floyd, because of their passion for music they formed such a tight bond. She also has a very strong relationship with Bee, because of how much time Bee and Summer find themselves locked in Summer’s room together. Summer’s character enjoys music, is loyal and sometimes depressed. She is a typical teenager, but is also nice, helpful and understanding. “Sweetheart, chicken and little dot: they weren’t exactly superhero names, so how was I going to prevent this disaster on my own? There was one question he hadn’t answered and all I had to do was cross my arms and stare at him” (p.16). This quote was chosen because it is evidence of Summer speaking like a typical teenager.

Gabe is also a 13-year-old. He has a really strong relationship with Floyd. This is because they both love playing the guitar and skateboarding, they would always go down to the skate park together. Gabe’s character includes loneliness, making new friends/meeting new people, going on adventures, reaching out for help, and being a really good friend to Summer. Gabe’s personality is caring, funny, confusing, relatable and always there at the right time. This is Gabe speaking: “‘Never. I’ve never left Melbourne, not even once.’ He looked out the window. ‘We are in Melbourne, aren’t we?’” (p.168). This quote was picked because it is an example of Gabe being ‘funny’, ‘confusing’ and ‘relatable’.
Other characters include: Mal, Gran, Wren, Summer’s Mum, Summer’s Dad, Sophie, Milo, Sophie’s parents, Bee and Floyd, just to name a few.

London and Melbourne are the two cities where The Other Side of Summer is set. But there are two main places in Melbourne where the story is set.
Summer’s home in Melbourne is the first main place that the story is set. This is where Summer finds herself most of the time. Because she is so depressed she is always in her bedroom, playing the guitar or cuddling with Bee. It is also where (through the window of Summer’s room) Summer saw a boy walking around in her backyard. “Suddenly I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye and stopped playing. Down in the garden. A cat? Or a possum? No, I could see better now – it was much, much bigger. Under the tree, crouching. My hand was frozen in E minor. It was a someone. Not Dad or Wren - the someone had longer legs and was wearing a hood.” (p.151). This quote was chosen because it is the second time Summer meets the boy, and it is important to understand the main character’s habitat.

The creek (Wurun Creek) in Melbourne is the second main place that the story is set. This is where the boy first appears. “Over there, a twig snapped. I looked away from Bee and saw a boy stumbling backwards and landing awkwardly. There was someone else here? But that side of the river was rough and tangled with trees and shrubs. There was no path over there that I could see.” (p.133,134). This quote was included because this is when Summer first meets the boy, and is a very important and memorable scene.

There are 3 key events in the book. The first one is when Floyd dies. He was in a bombing at Waterloo Station. “The bomb had been inside the big clock, hidden in the space between the four faces. We didn’t know what Floyd had been doing there that day… I pictured mixed-up matter flying in all directions. Yet random objects had survived, completely whole. For example, the Ibanez Artwood. Who could explain to me how that could be, when bones had splintered violently into dust? Tick, you’re alive. Tock, you’re dead. My brother, gone.” (p.7). This quote was chosen because Summer describes Floyd’s death like this in the book.
The second key event is when Summer, her Dad and Wren move to Australia. “The plane dripped. I gulped the swollen feeling from my ears. I looked at Dad looking at the view and wondered if he was thinking ‘home’. But I pushed that thought away for a new, angry thought to grow: if Dad hadn’t made us come here, we’d still be four. If Mum had tried harder, Dad would never have come up with this plan in the first place.” (p.82). This quote is included because Summer is really anxious about moving to Australia and this quote describes it clearly.
The third one is when Summer first plays the guitar in Australia. “Then I began. I was cautious at first, bracing myself for the strings of the Ibanez Artwood, which were harder on the tips of my fingers than the nylon strings of my own guitar. The first chord change was horrible, but I kept going. I pressed a little harder and ran my right thumb down and up.” (p.132). This quote was chosen because it’s the scene when Summer first plays the guitar in Australia.

There are various themes throughout The Other Side of Summer. But the main ones are: home, belonging, displacement, grief, hope, magic and leaving things behind.
That’s what the book has been explaining. The Ibanez Artwood plays a big part of the story and could be part of the message of the story. “The Ibanez Artwood had to be back for a reason. It was so familiar but now it was also strange, like lost things are once they’re found, because it had been somewhere I hadn’t. Somehow I knew its return was the sign of a different, unexpected ending” (p.8). This quote was picked because Summer thinks that the guitar is back for a reason and later in the story you will find out if it is.
One message of the story is that if you’re depressed and lonely, all you need to do is believe in yourself. This will lead you to your happier, true self. Summer is depressed and lonely, but by the end of the book she has fought through it, been brave and found her true self.

The author’s writing style is soft and calming as you get taken on a journey in a 13-year-old’s mind. It’s so exciting when Emily describes settings, characters and key events or anything, because they are all so realistic. “It was a gleaming white house made of horizontal boards and a shiny tin roof. There was a porch, two windows either side of a black front door and a perfectly round rose bush in front, like a face about to lick a pink lollipop.” (p.32). This quote was picked because it is an example of Emily’s descriptive writing of things that can be so relatable.

The genre of The Other Side of Summer is magic-realism. Magical realism is a common genre for young teens and in coming of age stories. And this genre was explored beautifully in The Other Side of Summer. “There he was. The creek boy, the boy in our garden, the boy in the dark of my room. Not a dream or a trick of the light: the boy was here.” (p.164). That’s an example of magic. “The doorbell pierced the grim quiet of our house. Nobody moved. I knew this even though I couldn’t see the others. Our house stirred and breathed with us like old places do. I imagined us four freezing in our separate roosting spots.” (p.3). This is an example of a real life situation; it equals to realism. If you put them both together you get magic-realism!

A recommended age group for this book is ages 10 to late teens, but adults will enjoy the book as well. Girls would like the book more than boys because of the ideas that it explores. The type of reader that is recommend to read this book is a person that loves a book full of magic, hope, grief, leaving things behind and much, much more. A reader that loves an exquisite and unforgettable book. As well as a reader that just likes reading a good book.

To conclude the review, The Other Side of Summer is a breath-taking and heart-stopping story. Now it’s up to you to read it and figure out the answers to all the questions. “In Australia, Summer makes an unlikely friend, who seems to be magically connected to her guitar. Is this for real? Has a mysterious boy been sent to help Summer? Or could it be the other way around?” (back cover).
Profile Image for Claudievee.
22 reviews1 follower
July 2, 2019
I dunno. I can't explain it I just, didn't love it. I'm almost done and I started today which means it's easy to read, but I think that's just because the writing is simple and nothing special. I also don't mean to sound insensitive, but I'm finding that too many young adult novels revolve around death. Protagonists always seem to be recovering from the tragic loss of a family member in these YA books and obviously, that's fine, sometimes a tragedy in a story can be beautiful and heartbreaking but it needs to be really good, otherwise I find myself not really caring that much about the characters and feeling guilty for not being the slightest bit sad over their hardships, trauma and tragedies.


One of my problems with this book is that I don't like how we're not really supposed to not like the mum. I suppose she comes through in the end and maybe she really did need those few months to live with their Gran (her mum) in order to come back to her family happy and ready to face life without Floyd, but I can't help thinking that staying home to be taken care of by your mum while your children are starting a new chapter of their lives on the other side of the world makes you a crummy mummy. They've experienced the same loss and are going through grief and heartache too, and to me, it's rather self absorbed to think that you deserve to be taken care of by your mum any more than they deserve to be taken care of by theirs. I reckon it also makes you a crummy partner. Parents are supposed to be a team, and that does not sound like a team player to me.

The other reason why I didn't like it was simply Summer. I understand that the whole point of her character development was to depict coming of age and all that jazz, but it also meant that our protagonist spent the majority of the novel being this snarky, moping, angry teen. The kind of person that I just don't like. It is nice that she's aware of how her behaviour is mean and unpleasant, but, I didn't see her lovely warm side enough for me to still enjoy her character.

Yeah, it was ok.
Profile Image for Bethany.
Author 20 books92 followers
June 6, 2017
THE OTHER SIDE OF SUMMER is an emotional ride about a girl named Summer trying to find her place in the world now that her brother, Floyd, isn't in it. It takes you through the processes of grief and how to come back from losing someone so close.

Summer and her family are broken with the absence of Floyd. When his guitar magically makes its way back into their lives, it brings along some hope. Summer loves the guitar and knew that Floyd always had it on him. Now, it's a way for her to connect to Floyd without him there any more.

Searching for the change, Summer's dad uproots Summer and her sister, Wren, and moves them from London to Australia. At first, it makes her feel farther away from her old self. When Summer discovers her mother isn't going with them, she feels even more abandoned.

Then, she meets Gabe, but there's something different about him. At first, she thinks he's a ghost, but soon finds that there is so much more to his story and that he's connected to her brother and his guitar. They may be the only ones able to help each other out of their ruts.

Final Verdict: This is the perfect summer read for ages 8-12 that is full of compelling emotion, making new friends, trusting your own heart, and finding your way back home, wherever it is.
Profile Image for Jessica G.
780 reviews51 followers
October 6, 2019
I haven't reviewed a book in what feels like forever, but I had to dust off that sad chapter of my life because this book deserves all the praise it can get!
'The Other Side of Summer' was the biggest and best surprise for a middle-grade novel, and I want to thank 16/17-yr old me for buying this book, and also scold her for not reading it sooner because WHY. However, I can also appreciate that I've clearly read it at the right time because I wonder if I would have appreciated it the way I should have.
The narrative style was soothing and comforting in both a wistful way for my soul, but also for the little parts that make you ruminate in sadness. Gotta love the ruminating stuff. Who doesn't love suffocating themselves in feelings of sadness amiright folks? (Ok I kid, calm down ^^)
Still, it discussed themes of grief but in a way that wasn't inherently sad, and I'm kind of confused of how that is a thing. How is that a thing? I would love to know, thx xx.
Summer was a beautiful human, and I love Gabe and Milo to death (for reals tho), and I was LIVING for the Australianisms.
Get yourself this book, hike up the You Yangs, and binge-read this book. That's the way you've gotta do it - not take-backs, xoxo
March 14, 2019
Ever since Floyd ,Summers brother passed away. Her family started falling apart and mum has been depressed ever since. There was one thing Summer thought about at London was her friendship with her best friend, Mal. Her dad made them all move to Australia. Summer feels like ever since they moved to Australia shes been more sad about her brother and only plays his guitar to feel like hes with her. After all there life they have at Australia was the total opposite of their life whenever Floyd passed away. Even with all the circumstances they had to face, the family had something that kept them going which was the faith to never stop living their life. Summer and Wren met new friends and ended up loving Australia after all.
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