Jenerally Speaking: Summer Lovin’

Well we’ve reached the middle of summer and I have to say it has been a pretty good one.  Work has been manageable, I’ve taken a lovely vacation to visit my family and the weather has been unseasonably nice.  As my friends and family start to take their own vacations, my inbox is flooded with requests for what they should read on their trip?  This is the hardest question to answer when you work in publishing but it is also one of the most fun.  There are soooooo many great books and there really is something out there for every type of reader.  I factor in a lot when making a book recommendation – what type of books has the reader liked/loved in the past, what was the last book they read, what type of books do they want to read in their free time?   If I had to pick two books for fans of realistic YA fiction that should be read this summer it would be The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson and Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler.

I’m purposely ignoring some of the YA fiction that is currently dominating the bestseller lists – I’m looking at you John Green and Rainbow Rowell.  I’m operating under the assumption that everyone reading this post has read The Fault in Our Stars and some of you (hopefully most) have read Eleanor & Park.  While John Green and Rainbow Rowell have certainly swung the pendulum away from paranormal and dystopian they are not the first to write real fiction for teens.  I love many things about TFIOS and E&P but I’m really loving is that readers are now clamoring for other contemporary and realistic books.  There are some really great books out there that are just waiting to be picked up.

The Sky Is EverywhereThe Sky is Everywhere – Jandy Nelson

I loved this book for so many reasons.  First, I think it is beautifully written – there are quotes and passages throughout the book that caused me to pause and reread many times.  Second, it is a story about finding yourself.  It is a story about a girl drowning in grief who is kicking to the surface desperate to grab onto anything or anyone who will ease her pain.  Third, it is a love story and quite a good one.  If you like a love story that at times will tug at your heartstrings and bring a tear to your eye…this is the perfect book for you.  This book is for any one that read The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor & Park and when they turned the last page and asked “where I can find another book like this?!?!”

Here are just a few of my favorite quotes:

“The sky is everywhere, it begins at your feet.” 

“How can the word love, the word life, even fit in the mouth?” 

“According to all the experts, it’s time for me to talk about what I’m going through… I can’t. I’d need a new alphabet…”

“I will never stop grieving Bailey because I will never stop loving her. That’s just how it is. Grief and love are conjoined, you don’t get one without the other. All I can do is love her, and love the world, emulate her by living with daring and spirit and joy.”


10bsTwenty Boy Summer – Sarah Ockler

First, this is one of my favorite covers.  There is something so simplistic and beautiful about it.  Twenty Boy Summer is a story about friendship, secrets, first love, tragedy, second love and second chances.  When Anna’s best friend Frankie suggests that they each need to have a summer fling, Anna agrees but she is hiding a huge secret from Frankie.  Anna has already had her first summer romance – a secret he has kept from her best friend because it was with Frankie’s older brother, Matt a year before his tragic death.  There are so many wonderful layers to this story.  It is a story about grief, forgiveness and the meaning of friendship.  As a best friend, Anna is there for Frankie helping her deal with Matt’s death yet she has no one to help her past her grief.  The one person who could help her is unaware of her heartbreak.  Matt is of course a dream guy and as a reader your heart just breaks for Anna  –  because when you think you have all the time in the world you don’t rush to say the things you want to say.   And while parts of the story are heartbreaking there are parts that will cause you to smile and laugh.  And then there is Sam…and he is swoon-worthy.

“It happened and it was impossible and beautiful and then it ended before it even really began, leaving nothing behind but secrets and broken hearts.”

“I really don’t even know you, and yet, in my life, you are forever entangled; to my history, inextricably bound.”


I think /hope you will enjoy these books.  While there are sad parts to each story, they are still full of wonderful moments because sadly sometimes it takes something tragic to show us who we really are and what we are capable of.

Author spotlight

Jen E.

Jen E. lives and works in Manhattan as a sales rep for the completely awesome Macmillan Children’s Group. When she …

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