I’ve been waiting on reading this book since Katherine first mentioned she had another book coming out after The Silent Chapter. Big thank you to Katherine for thinking of me when looking for reviewers for this charming book. Let me share with you my honest thoughts on The Summer We’ve Had.
I’m not sure where I’d place this book on my shelves. Romance yes. Gay, double yes. Mental Health, most definitely, and I also feel this is a book that is good for comprehension and awareness of mental health, behaviours, intrusive thoughts, and the general feeling that certain mental illnesses bring about.
If you read my last review of Katherine’s book, you would know I didn’t hold back and shared some spoilers, so this time I have tried to be a bit more delicate on the spoiler front to bring you my review of The Summer We’ve Had.
So without further ado… let’s have a look at this wonderful indie author’s LesficThe Summer We’ve Had.
Meet the Author
Hey everybody! I’m Katherine, a teen author from South East England, whose name you may have seen attached to The Silent Chapter, a straight historical fiction novel set in interwar Britain, which I released aged 18 in February 2022. My other greatest love is lesbian fiction, hence The Summer We’ve Had: a sunny Sapphic romance featuring a character with depression, and a character with Dissociative Identity Disorder. Keep up with me on all my social media, and learn more about DID and my writing on my blog!
Links to Katherine’s socials:
I will not be comparing The Summer We’ve Had to The Silent Chapter as they are two exceedingly different books. Instead, I’ll be looking at this lesfic as a separate entity.
The Summer We’ve Had
Cass Mulligan has had a rough couple of years. Following the death of her mother, a celebrated famous singer, she decides to take up the offer of moving to the quiet coast of Cornwall. Sun, sea, and serenity? Here she is able to finally breathe and give herself the care and attention she’s been neglecting, but on her journey of self-acceptance, there is another who also needs help.
Felicia Wilson is hiding every day. Her life has been a complicated balancing act, after complicated balancing act. Felicia has an intricate system known as Dissociative Identity Disorder; a system of five separate, alternate personalities living in her body, and they all have different hopes, fears, and desires.
Cass and Felicia find themselves in a friendship in their small Cornish village that soon develops into a mutual attraction. But can their relationship sustain with everything going on in each other’s lives?
Wow. Ok, I don’t really know how to start my review on this one, apart from it was really good.
When you have books writing about mental health and mental illness you often get one of three things. The romanticised mental illness, where depression or bipolar is a cool personality trait; the second where it is demonised and made out to be something so very wrong and shunned; and the latter is just being super depressing. The Summer We’ve Had doesn’t fit into any of these stereotypes and that makes me super happy. When I first read the blurb I was expecting a “Girl in Pieces” -esque novel of flat contemporary commentary on depression and so pleasantly pleased it is nothing like that. (No offense to anyone who is a fan of that book of course).
Cass is a real character that can be related. She is struggling. Everything is a lot. Moving, unpacking, and working out the new life by the sea is exciting but exhausting. But at the start, there are these magic little moments that I have also caught myself doing. Standing out in the sunshine, feeling the light’s warmth on your skin and thinking, you know what this may not be all this bad. Those tiny moments throughout the 277 pages are glorious. Other details about Cass’s inner workings are great too. The overthinking, the panic over small things – all things that I have personally been dealing with and feeling outnumbered with.
Now personally, I do not know much about DiD, but I like how Felicia and her system are written about. In the sections where it is delving into her inner workings, I like how they are all their own, but also have shared interests in Felecia. It’s complicated but not in a forced way. I like how Heather is the bold one and protective over everyone, but also a listener to the others Coral, Daniella, and to some extent Kylie and Autumn.
There is romance, and it works well in the context of the book. There are some very cute moments between Heather and Cass, and the warming of Daniella and Coral to Cass. It is ultimately a self-learning journey for both Cass and Felecia. A romance that had a chance and took it, but ultimately being grown up enough to know what works and what really doesn’t.
The ending is happy, don’t worry but it is not the way you would expect it to be happy.
Overall, this book covers many topics in a short space. It is comprehensive but not in a way that is trying to be clever. It’s a dive into emotions, coping with mental illness, loss, change, and ultimately love in that part of life.
The Summer We’ve Had is the first book I’ve read that tackles mental health and romance in a constructive way without making things toxic. It is refreshing, well-written and a joy to read.
Thank you for the opportunity to review this book, Katherine!
All graphics from Katherine Blakeman.