My Last Summer With You: No Fanfare for a Withered Rose
Joseph is a seventeen-year-old college freshman. As a foreigner, he is surprised by many aspects of American culture. Normally, he would have plenty of help adjusting, but his story takes place in North Carolina in the 1970s. The first friend he makes at school is a pretty, white woman, and the pair begins facing social pressure almost immediately.
As a story about being a fish out of water and coming to terms with new surroundings, My Last Summer with You is very successful.
The writing is a bit formal and occasionally becomes stilted, but it fits with the protagonist who is not accustomed to American English. With his focus on academics, Joseph is a far cry from the typical higher education student who is looking for the “college” experience (which, while certainly including scholarly pursuits, is not exactly centered around them). He positively affects his friends’ study habits, and he excels despite his homesickness.
Unfortunately, this book is not only about a young man learning to thrive in a new environment. It is also about his romantic entanglements. In the beginning, an older Joseph says that he had a serious relationship with Francesca. Then, when we next see younger Joseph going to school, he becomes infatuated with Wendy. When he does meet Francesca, he thinks she is shallow and uninteresting. Joseph and Wendy have an interesting relationship that teeters between friendship and something more. Then it just stops with no explanation, and he is suddenly dating the previously vapid Francesca. This pacing issue extends throughout the entire story. Minor events are described in detail, but large changes are glossed over, leaving the reader confused.
Also confusing is Joseph. He repeatedly opts not to express his feelings when his paramours make it clear that they want him to. His standoffishness is briefly explained by his determination to succeed academically, but I would have liked a more detailed explanation as to why he feels that romance and learning are mutually exclusive.
That said, My Last Summer with You provides a unique look at American college life. It is always nice to read a story that you know when it is told from a new perspective, and Mkparu very lovingly creates a story, at once familiar and unique, told through a point of view that offers insight and surprise at every turn.
|Author||Fidelis O. Mkparu|
|Page Count||157 pages|
|Publisher||Dog Ear Publishing|
|Bookshop.org||Buy this Book|