My Last Summer with Cass, by Mark Crilley

“A good friendship is like a work of art.”

Megan and Cass have been friends forever. Their families vacationed together since they were young, and the two girls could count on seeing each other every summer at the lakeside cabin their parents rented. It was during their time there that Megan and Cass discovered their shared love of art, and it’s where they had their first collaboration and were discovered and encouraged by a woman with an eye for talent.

As the girls get older, their lives change dramatically, and their summers by the lake are just memories. With college choices on the horizon, Megan manages to convince her parents to let her visit Cass in New York City for a couple of weeks, and that time changes how both young women think about themselves, their friendship, and their art.

MY LAST SUMMER WITH CASS by Mark Crilley is gorgeous. The characters have depth and beauty, the art is fantastic, and the story is one that will resonate with both teens and adults. I love Crilley’s illustrations because he manages to tell so much about a character in subtle ways, and this book shows that he’s equally adept with words.

I don’t want to go into too much detail about the plot, but I encourage you to pick up this book. You can read it in one sitting, and then start it all over again to immerse yourself in the illustrations and fully appreciate the beauty of that part of the work. That’s certainly what I did.

I’ll be buying MY LAST SUMMER WITH CASS for the art-loving teens in my world–in part because I don’t want to give up my own copy–and I hope that this departure from his normal style isn’t Crilley’s last.

They Both Die at the End, by Adam Silvera

TBDATE

 

The date is September 5, 2017 and Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio are both going to die. Thanks to an app called Last Friend, they find each other and commit to spend their day in the best way possible—whatever that means.

THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END should be an incredibly sad book about dying, but instead it’s a manual on how to live. Author Adam Silvera shows how we’re all part of a single tapestry, and intersections with others can have a significance you might never understand. Mateo and Rufus are both beautiful souls, and though they are each flawed, their imperfections help strengthen the other. The day that they spend together might seem unremarkable to someone who doesn’t know them; fortunately, we get to know them both really well through some great character development.

In the midst of Mateo and Rufus’s story are the stories of many others. We just catch glimpses of some of them, and others receive a longer look. It’s understandable that none of them are as well put together as the two protagonists, but there are instances where the glimpses seem a bit too contrived and they distract rather than sharpen the focus on the two I really wanted to see, but that could be a testament to Mateo and Rufus rather than a failing in the others.

This book would be a wonderful addition to a high school classroom. The conversations and debates I imagine it generating among teens would be awesome. Adam Silvera has created a fascinating, modern, coming-of-age story, and I look forward to sharing it with others, if only so that I can talk about it some more.