'Tale of Two Summers'

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library - Central Library

'Tale of Two Summers'

Teen Book Review

A Tale of Two Summers by Brian Sloan
So, what are your plans for the summer?  Are you getting a job?  Going to camp?  Stuck in summer school?  Are your friends heading out of town and leaving you behind? Why not keep in touch by blogging?  That’s what local boys and best friends Hal and Chuck do when they are separated for the first time since they became friends.  With this premise, A Tale of Two Summers by Brian Sloan presents an interesting out-of-school experience.    

Hal and Chuck have been friends for more than 10 years, and they have spent very little of that time apart. The biggest test their friendship comes in the summer of 2006, as Chuck heads off to theater camp at the University of Maryland, and Hal spends his summer at home in Wheaton.  To keep in touch, Chuck suggests they start a blog, to which Hal reluctantly agrees.

At first, their summers seem very ho-hum, until both boys end up falling in love; Chuck with his fellow lead at theater camp and Hal with a sexy French exchange student. The blog also gives the boys the freedom to discuss things they would not discuss in real life, especially how Hal ended up coming out to Chuck as gay at New Year’s of the past year, and how Chuck wants to pursue theater as a career but his parents want him to be a lawyer.

This is a great book for modern teenage suburban guys, but it may lose its core audience as time goes on when new methods of communication replace blogging. (Twitter, anyone?) The unique format of blog entries and other Internet communications as the text of the story make for an interesting experience, but it also shows how unreliable the narrators can be (Hal makes several entries while high on pot).

Each of the characters is very distinct. Chuck is the grounded one in their friendship, but he keeps on falling for theater divas and has trouble seeing when a truly great girl is interested in him.  Hal is friendly and flamboyant, but has issues opening up to people. The distance between the two characters gives them the chance to work through their problems and support each other in ways they could not if they were spending the summer together.

Entries referencing events happening in their lives gives the story depth. The dialogue of the two teens, laced with just the right amount of sarcasm and profanity, will resonate with its core audience of male teenage readers. The time and place of the story is very grounded, both due to the dated entries and due to the real places in and around Washington, D.C. and its suburbs, where the story takes place.  

A Tale of Two Summers is recommended for mid- to late-teen readers and is available at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library Teen Space and other locations in the DC Public Library system. Check it out along with other books by Brian Sloan today!
-- Brandon Digwood