Review: The Summer Remains by Seth King



Twenty-four-year-old Summer Johnson knows two things. The first is that due to a quickly worsening medical condition, she faces a risky surgery in three months’ time that may or may not end in her death. The second is that she would like to fall in love before then.

As spring sinks into her namesake season on the Florida coastline, Summer plays the odds and downloads a new dating app – and after one intriguing message from a beautiful surfer named Cooper Nichols, it becomes clear that the story of what may be her last few months under the sun is about to be completely revised. All she has to do now is write something worth reading.

Tender, honest, devastating and triumphant, The Summer Remainsexplores a very human battle being waged in a very digital age: the search for a love that will outlast this temporary borrowing of bones. In an era when many feel compelled to share and re-share anything about everything, prepare to feel a love so special, you will want to hug it close and make it yours forever.


This was different. I didn’t cry at all while reading this book (which is weird), I felt a lump in my throat, an heaviness in my chest through it all, but I didn’t cry. As soon as I turned the last page, though, I broke down, I felt it all. I still can’t control the tears.

Because I, Summer Johnson, Purveyor of Pragmatism, Lover of Logic, Ultimate Believer in the Rational, and Person Who Was Maybe Going To Die Soon, wanted to drown in someone.

Due to an illness she was born with, and which is getting worse, Summer is given the option to go through a surgery that, if successful, might give her a normal life. The thing is, no one survived it.

I deserved love, too, no matter my present circumstances, and I didn’t know how much longer I could watch my frenemies pull ahead on the Highway of Life and live so loudly while I sat in the dark.

She’s a 24 years-old girl who’s always been different because her scars, her illness, are on the outside, anyone can see them, and unfortunately humans aren’t so kind to what’s different. So, even though, she’s a force of nature, she’s never experienced love. She’s cynical and her life hardened her in a way that’s difficult to understand, but in the end she’s human and what she wants is to leave an impression, to be remembered, to be loved.

Life was going to destroy me anyway, be it in three months or sixty years – why not let love help finish the job, too?

Summer downloads an app “Sparks”, to help her find someone, she’s not sure how to do so, and after some failed attempts, Cooper Nichols shows up. After a few messages, it’s clear that the two speak the same language and so they decide to meet up.

A girl who didn’t deserve love, asking a boy for it nonetheless.

Cooper was, at first, a difficult character to understand, because there was so much under his appearance. He’s a writer, or at least he’d like to be one even if he’s failed before, so he has this way of speaking and seeing things differently. And he found in Summer someone to really talk to. It’s no surprise that they hit it off so easily, they both had to grow up so fast for one reason or another, and so they share open-heartedly their beliefs, their hopes, their dreams.

I found it healthy to seek temporary heartbreak in art, especially since real life gave you such a hell of a hangover. After all, wasn’t that what constituted humanity in the first place? Seeking out some pretty bullshit to insert the knife and remind us of why we’re different from the beasts?

The only thing Summer is not sharing is the truth about her condition, Cooper has no idea that she might die at the end of the summer. Was it fair of Summer? Probably not, but it wouldn’t have been a nice or appealing pick-up line to begin with.

If humans were colors, Cooper was the most dazzling gold in the world and I was a million different shades of the same boring grey.

Summer is very self conscious, and she pretty much hates herself, but I think that that hate was wrongly directed, because what she really hated was her condition, the unfair set of cards she’d been dealt. She’s not the romanticized sick girl, who loves everyone, who smiles at everyone, and all that things we’re often brainwashed with; she’s angry, she hates a lot of things and people (especially, those facebook frenemies always posting about their weddings and their perfect lives). I didn’t agree with some of her theories, and I didn’t always like her way of thinking and reacting, but I loved her anyway because she’s a so thoroughly defined character. If you asked me what she would do in a situation I would probably know how to answer. That’s because a large part of the book is focused on Summer and Cooper getting to know each other, they ask each other about everything and it was beautiful to see this relationship bloom.

I need you too, you know. And I know you need me, no matter what you tell yourself. So let yourself be happy, Summer. Stop doing this. Let love destroy you – God knows life is going to, anyway.”

This book is brutally honest, it shows you life, the unfairness of it, but also the possibilities, the hope, the way love can break you and at the same time save you. This book is heartbreaking, it’s tragic, it’s funny (in a slightly morbid way sometimes, you can thank Summer for that), it’s hopefull. While reading it I could tell Seth King poured his soul into it, and by the end, reading the author’s note (please don’t skip it if you read this) I was proven right.

They say that if a writer falls in love with you, you can never die.

The Summer Remains is not a perfect book, the characters aren’t perfect, but it’ll make you think a lot, and it’ll make you feel so much, and in the end, that’s what is important.

manuela calloway sisters



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