Review of The Summer Of Secrets by Sarah Jasmon

Published: 13th August 2015
Pages: 352


The summer the Dovers move in next door, sixteen-year-old Helen’s lonely world is at once a more thrilling place. She is infatuated with the bohemian family, especially the petulant and charming daughter Victoria. As the long, hot days stretch out in front of them, Helen and Victoria grow inseparable. But when a stranger appears, Helen begins to question whether the secretive Dover family are really what they seem. It’s the kind of summer when anything seems possible… Until something goes wrong.


Thank you to Transworld for kindly sending me a review copy.

The anticipated debut from Sarah Jamson opens with a prologue regarding leaving a loved one behind and carrying on with your children before venturing into Helen’s point of view throughout the past and present. In the past, Helen shares everything with readers from meeting Victoria for the first time to being told about her true personality to the Summer spent wondering when she’ll next see to her new friend.

“This is my sister. She thinks she’s in charge but she’s only fifteen. She’s called Victoria. Like the Queen. Because they’re both grumpy.”

In the present, Helen has found Victoria again and is debating whether to see her or not. To me, it seemed like Helen’s life had taken a dramatic down spiral from whatever happened during that Summer. There was no light in her personality or spring in her step – perhaps that was all for good measure?

“I do what I’ve done ever since I got here when things get too much for me. I go up to the roof.”

When Helen is about to come face to face with Victoria again, I could feel the tension continually building as we went from past to present yet I found myself enjoying the two different tenses quite a lot. The way in which Sarah wrote them with such drama was brilliant and they went together perfectly. With themes of drugs, alcohol, single-parent families, loss, depression and suicide, I’m really impressed about how Sarah beautifully interpreted a variation of life events which some teenagers do struggle with.

“Dad, when can I come home?”

The reveal of the big secret as to what happened that Summer reminded me quite a lot of We Were Liars in some sense. It was really well written and despite enjoying the ending, I felt like the impact of that Summer didn’t hit me as much as I may of done with other readers.

Twitter: @sarahontheboat