Published May 1st 2018 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Format read: Finished copy via publisher
ISBN: 0374304858 (ISBN13: 9780374304850)
Thirteen-year-old Bina has a long summer ahead of her. She and her best friend, Austin, usually do everything together, but he's off to soccer camp for a month, and he's been acting kind of weird lately anyway. So it's up to Bina to see how much fun she can have on her own. At first it's a lot of guitar playing, boredom, and bad TV, but things look up when she finds an unlikely companion in Austin's older sister, who enjoys music just as much as Bina. But then Austin comes home from camp, and he's acting even weirder than when he left. How Bina and Austin rise above their growing pains and reestablish their friendship and respect for their differences makes for a touching and funny coming-of-age story.
Larson introduces us to thirteen-year-old Bina, who is struggling at the idea of a summer without her best friend Austin. He's off to soccer camp for a month, and Bina's best options are... binging TV shows?
But fate intervenes in the form of Austin's older sister, who introduces Bina to new people, new culture, and new ideas. As Bina slowly transforms into an older version of herself, Larson asks her character to question just what it means to grow up, and how to equally grow apart (and yet retain strong ties!) between friends and family.
There are many things to love about All Summer Long, beginning with the fact that Bina is just an ordinary teen. Unlike many of her fictional counterparts, Bina's the type of young person who likes many things, but she's not especially adept or invested in any of them. It's that questioning of what makes her tick, which drives her to hang out with Austin's older sister, exploring and pushing boundaries for herself.
But those boundaries aren't necessarily shocking or dangerous. They're simple things like babysitting for someone else, which helps Bina - in one of the best lines of the book - really live up to the idea that she's "more you, every day". Consequently, when Austin comes back and continues to challenge their friendship, Bina is able to adjust and adapt, in a way that is meaningful and shows what kind of adult she's bound to become.
All Summer Long is a smart, sensitive look at what it means to grow up and learn to be comfortable in one's own skin. Highly recommend, full stop.