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Monday, 30 August 2010

Discussion: Summer Love Mondays 6 - Themes and Perspectives

For me, Summer is the season of reflection and change. There is this sort of time gap that comes every year and you fill it with reflections and aims and decisions. For me, it is the opposite of New Year's Eve when the whole of society tells us it is time to make resolutions and start anew. I always think it is silly to wait to the end of the year to change something. If you want to do something different, be someone different, then why wait? So New Year is a bit phony. I think it is more a marketing, consumerist thing which tells us to be thinner, prettier, healthier and if you join this health spa and pay a fortune then you will be part of the special people. It's nonsense of course but the best of us can be fooled by the machine. So where is this all going?

I think Summer is the real season of change. It always has been in my life. I think it is probably because the British education system is structured that way to give you a huge block of free time in the summer. Even though I am now the librarian rather than the student, I am still gifted with that space in time and so summer still means that for me.

All the books I read for this feature seem to echo this concept. Summer is a catalyst for change. Maybe it is because we shed layers of clothing, like a snake sheds its skin. Our bodies are exposed to the world in our Summer clothes and suddenly this makes us look more closely at what we look like yes but also who we are. During the months of Summer, we can grow in confidence, take a bigger risk and somehow ask bigger questions of ourselves.

Of course in many of the novels I read for this feature explored the themes of loss and grief. It is not that these books on summer romance are filled with death but that summer somehow opens the door to dealing with grief in a deeper way. For Rain, it was confronting a space that represented her mother's childhood, visiting a place that she would never be able to ask her mother about. For Anna in Twenty Boy Summer, it was confronting the fact that she was the only one who knew the truth about her relationship with Matt and so the extent of her grief was hidden from those who could share in it.

Despite the fact that there was a great sadness running through these novels, there were also moments of pure joy. There are stolen kisses on the beach, meeting someone who sees you the way no one else who knows you sees you, exploring a new and beautiful place. Honestly, these things do not happen every Summer. For some people they might not happen any Summer. But it is undeniable that the season of summer carries with it the sense of possiblity and potential that something magical may just happen.

Now I'm sitting here trying to think about this Summer and if anything has changed for me, and it is really difficult. There isn't enough distance there yet. But this Summer has been about writing for me. I've tried to structure writing into my day. It is becoming a habit but that isn't actually a consequence of this Summer. I was working on that long before. Yet I still can't think of this holiday without understanding it through writing. I can't understand it better than that.

The biggest change in my life is my sister and her husband have moved closer to home. 9 days ago my sister moved about 300 miles closer to me. Now I can drive for an hour and see her which was impossible before. She is actually feeling rather overwhelmed by all the change she is going through: new job, new house, new area. It is fair to say that big changes can be terrifying and yet sometimes it can be so rewarding. (Or I am one of the people benefiting most from her change.)

Who knew this post would end out being so hippy?!

So for discussion then, is there a season that represents change for you? Are you like me? Is Summer the catalyst for your decisions, where you decide to take a certain fork in the road of life? Have you made a crucial decision this Summer? Please share any thoughts at all.

And what about covers? Do you have a favourite?
Is there one that really represents the themes as well as the genre?

I love how The Summer I Turned Pretty really captures the sort of brightness of summer. It is almost neon. But I think the cover for Twenty Boy Summer says a lot more about the story that's inside.

Thanks to everyone who has commented on the reviews of this feature. You have all been so fabulous.


Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

This is such a great post, Becky, thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. And, just so you know, you are able to word your thoughts so beautifully that I think you could be a writer yourself.

About your questions - I am like you in the sense that I have a season that I dedicate to reflection and changes about myself. For me, this time of the year, the time for the catalyst for my decisions, begins with autumn. I am filled with a lot of special energy in autumn, it feels almost magical, as I've always perceived autumn as a magical, sort of mythical time of every single year so far. I went through a lot of heavy things this summer and now I feel it's finally time to reflect on them and make some serious changes. So yes, it is autumn for me, all the way. Things becomes peaceful this time of year, time slows down together with nature, and this prompts ME to slow down and breathe in.

I loved reading your reflection and I'm glad I could share my thoughts with you.

Covers? Ugh, hard to decide. Well, from the books I've read this year the cover for "The Lace Reader" by Brunonia Barry has definitely stayed with me. It exudes the atmosphere of the novel and I feel close to it because it's so autumn-y. There are several different covers available for this novel, and I am referring to the one in which a girl is standing on brown, autumn leaves wearing a pair of Mary Janes.

Library Mice said...

I hate New Year's Eve, and have done since I was a child. I think in summer you feel more free, so probably you feel you have more time for reflection. Although with two young children, I don't actually get that much freedom over the summer vacation!!! For me summer is often the time when I manage to read voraciously. It's also the season when we get time to empty the house of all the clutter we have gathered in the last year (I think the recycling van guys are going to really hate me when they see what I am leaving out for them tomorrow morning!). But beyond that, I think spring does it for me more regarding decision-making because for me it is full of hope.

Regarding covers that represent the genre and theme best, possibly Sarah Dessen's.

Lauren said...

Summer is my favourite season. I love sunshine and I love being at the beach and for me it doesn't get any better than that. However, Autumn is much more a time of change for me. I guess it's to do with the start of the new school term and everything that represented to me as a child. I used to love buying new school supplies and uniform. Brand new pens and pencils represented a fresh start somehow, and the new uniform made me feel reinvented. I'm always a tiny bit lazier in the warm weather, and Autumn is when I buckle down again. I still find myself tempted to buy those 'academic year' diaries instead of the regular year ones.

It sounds like your Summer has been brilliant for writing and for getting to know yourself better as a writer. I'm full of admiration for that. I guess it gives me something to aspire to for Autumn.

M.Lange said...

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So Many Books, So Little Time said...

Fantastic post, Becky. I think I agree that summer is a time for change as it's the time between ending a school year and beginning a new one. Even though tcould be just a different teacher or even a different city. There are endless possibilities!

Becky said...

Irena, I love autumn too. It is certainly my favourite season but perhaps because I have made all my decisions and I am working away at making them happen. I also happen love wearing thick woolly jumpers and the weather is perfect for that. Your summer sounds like it has taken its toll a little bit. I hope you are ok and that you get the chance to slow down.

Library Mice, I love clearing out the house of clutter too. Getting rid of clothes that don't fit properly. Giving books I'm not going to read again to charity. It all feels so productive.

Oh and I really need to read some Sarah Dessen.

Lauren, I loved buying new stationary for school too. I LOVED coloured biros. I have a new academic planner for work for the new year. It feels so nice and clean LOL. The new school year feeling - I have it every autumn. It is something in the air. Good luck with the autumnal writing.

M.Lange. Thanks!

Sophie, lots of exciting change for you coming up, huh? Hope the next few weeks go smoothly. University is such a special experience. Enjoy every second.

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Yah! More sister time. I recently moved further from my sister and I'm missing her terribly. Enjoy darling :)

Lovely post!