“I am going to say this from right here, right now! The Synopsis of The Summer of No Regrets is SO misleading. It leads a reader to believe that it is a frilly novel with no depth, it leads a reader to believe that it is your average run of the mill contemporary YA novel, with a typical romance and teenage angst. The story that Katherine Grace Bond gives us is none of that.”–Sara, Just Another Story book blog
I’ve been itching to talk about this since THE SUMMER OF NO REGRETS came out: Does the outside of the book match the inside?
Many readers are surprised by the story. Some love the surprise; others feel they got more than they bargained for.
Sara’s review went on to show a real understanding of the book, and it seems fair for me to take a stab at addressing her frequently-brought-up opening statement about the synopsis.
I gave my publisher a tough job. THE SUMMER OF NO REGRETS is really hard to describe in a few words.
- Is it about a girl whose boyfriend may be a secret celebrity? Yes.
- Is it about a girl who decides to take risks? Yes.
- Is it about a girl who has lost the two people who knew her best–one to death and the other to abandonment? Yes, again.
- Is it about a girl looking for spiritual truth? Yes, that, too.
Which of these will probably be of the most immediate interest to readers?
I’m all about meaning and have experienced grief, but I have to admit that what got me writing this book was the celebrity thing–once I got over my fear of being shallow. But because I’m all about meaning, I can never leave a story on the surface. I have to dig. I have to ask questions like: What is fame? What is it to be known? What are we all longing for?
I couldn’t write a book that simply went:
Girl: OMG, are you…?
Guy: I look intriguingly like him, don’t I?
Girl: But this is such a small town!
Guy: It is small. And you are here. And I am exceedingly hot. But mysterious.
Girl: You must be him! Then again, no! You can’t be! But maybe you are!
Guy: Keep guessing, babe. It’s sexy when you do that.
Girl: But wait! I don’t even like the guy you look like.
Guy: This presents a problem. But I am so sexy, you’ll get over it.
Girl: *Sigh* You’re right. My, what big muscles you have!
No, for me, the book had to have more to say…
Guy: Since we’re up in this treehouse in the dark, I may as well tell you I am looking for spiritual truth.
Girl: It’s dark. We’re alone. It’s after midnight. And you’re talking about religion?!
Wait, that’s not how it went.
Girl: Spiritual things? You are so groovy!
Well, she wouldn’t have said “groovy.”
But as soon as one of the characters says “spiritual” some readers begin to break out in hives, worried they are about to be preached at–worried, in fact, that the book is a cleverly-disguised religious tract. I can say that writing a tract was not my intention, but ultimately only the reader can decide how they feel about spirituality in a YA novel. For some, even the mention of such a thing is a dealbreaker.
And this was just one tough thing my publisher faced when taking a chance on this book. And in figuring out what to put on the back cover.
Guy: Do you have issues with your father? Because I have HUGE issues with mine. And my mum, who I won’t talk to anybody about. I noticed your dad was dancing around in the woods dressed as a cougar. Is this because he misses his parents?
Girl: You are very insightful as well as hot. My dad talks trash about my grandparents–or at least he did until they died. Now he doesn’t talk about them.
Guy: This is deep and tragic.
Girl: You are so sexy.
Guy: People tell me that. I think it’s because I look so much like that guy. The hot one? In the movies?
Girl: Oh, yeah! I’d almost forgotten about him.
Guy: No, you hadn’t.
Girl: Okay, I lied.
Guy: I heard you’re writing a book about all this.
Girl: Yes, but I can’t explain what it’s about.
Guy: Duh! It’s about me!
Girl: Nice try. It’s really about my personal search for meaning and my recovery from a deep loss.
Guy: Is that what you’re writing on the back cover?
Girl: Something like that. It has to have the word “religion” in it.
Guy: It does?
Girl: Why? Is that a bad idea?
Guy: I don’t know anything about publishing, but you might want to ask your editor.
Girl: “The unbelievably deep story of a girl who wants to find a religion because she needs to understand death after her grandparents die and her father may as well have.”
Guy: Okay, seriously, I do care about your pain. Honestly, I do. But my own incredible cover-worthiness aside, that’s just a tiny bit depressing.
Girl: You think you should be on the cover of the book?
Guy: Well, not all by myself…
Girl: You think we should both be on the cover.
Guy: Gazing into each other’s eyes.
Girl: Pink sunset?
Guy: About to kiss.
Girl: Yes! I mean…really?
Guy: If it’s okay with you.
Girl: It sounds…
Girl: Um… yeah. Quite, very, extremely fun. *blushes*
Guy: I promise we could talk about religion first.
Girl: On the beach?
Guy: Over fish and chips. I’ll pay. And there’s this lighthouse I want to show you…