Reviewed by Jennifer Joyce
It is 1976 and Britain is in the midst of a heat wave. On the Isle of Wight, seventeen-year-old Luke is part-way through sitting his exams. This will be his final summer before he heads off to college in Brighton, leaving behind his family and best friend, Martin. As the summer and the heat takes its toll, the small-knit community begins to gossip about the parties held by a local couple and it’s only a matter of time before a scandal hits the island. Regular attendees include Luke’s parents, Jo and Richard.
Summer of ’76 is a coming-of-age novel that follows Luke as he starts his first summer job and prepares to fly the nest. One of my favourite aspects of the book was Luke’s close relationship with his mum, Jo. You can see they have a strong bond, but will it last when the community gets their teeth into the scandal surrounding the parties? Luke’s parents have quite an easy-going relationship to begin with, but the cracks begin to show as they’re put under more and more pressure, fearing their secrets will soon be out in the open. As a main character, I really liked Luke and thought that he was quite mature for his age the majority of the time. Luke has a strong friendship with Martin, but the tensions from home seem to have a domino effect and I was worried their friendship would suffer irreparable damage. I liked Martin and couldn’t help feeling for him as it became clear he didn’t come from a happy home.
My favourite character from the book was Luke’s Nan. I thought she was a fantastic character who wasn’t easily fooled. She was always frank and didn’t mince her words at all, often coming out with things you wouldn’t expect from a little old lady, which only made me love her more. Nan is only in a few scenes, so I would have liked to have seen a lot more of her as I thought she was great.
Summer of ’76 is quite a gentle, slow-paced book which I thought matched the hot, lazy summer perfectly.
Isabel Ashdown’s Website