Genre: Realistic Fiction/Romance
Age Level: 14 and up
# of Pages: 306
RAC Book: Yes
Alice spends every summer at her family’s summer house on Fire Island hanging out with her older sister, Riley, and the next door neighbor boy, Paul. Riley and Paul have been best friends since they were kids and Alice always tagged along. Now that they are in their early twenties they decide to spend another summer there to try and recapture some of their youth. Alice and Riley have not seen Paul for three years so both feel a little anxious, but for very different reasons.
After Riley contracts strep throat she accidentally forgets her medication on the beach and when she goes to retrieve it finds Alice and Paul in a compromising position. As Alice and Paul become involved romantically they feel guilty leaving Riley behind. Riley was always the leader when they were kids and in many ways has never changed while everyone else has grown up. Due to the fact that Riley never found her strep throat pills, it develops into rheumatic heart disease. Riley insists that Alice let her tell Paul about her condition herself, but neglects to do so for many months. Since Alice has sworn not to tell Riley’s secret it drives a wedge between her and Paul. Alice also gives up her plans for law school and stays home to help take care of Riley.
This is a story about sisters, family, friendship, and love. However, many of the ways these characters go about showing their love makes the reader wonder if they really love each other at all. Alice and Paul feel so bad about betraying Riley by getting romantically involved that they actually feel like they brought on Riley’s illness by not telling her. Riley knows about their romance but doesn’t tell them because she doesn’t want to be left out if they make up. Riley also fails to tell Paul about her disease even though she knows it’s the reason they broke up. The motivations of the characters often seem unreasonable and selfish at times. There are a lot of issues and emotions dealt with, just like many of Brashares books, but readers looking for another Traveling Pants series will be disappointed.