Published May 2nd 2017 by HarperCollins
Format read: Finished copy via publisher
Edie has always been a rule follower. But when she finds herself stuck in small-town Florida for a summer with her impossibly cool cousin, Rae, she decides it’s time for a gutsier Edie, a more adventurous Edie, a wish-upon-a-shooting-star-and-make-your-own-wish-come-true Edie.
Together, the cousins set out to complete a mysterious list of “Good Ideas for Summertime” that their eccentric late grandmother wrote back when she was their age. But good ideas? Most of them seem like bad ideas. Reckless. Foolish. Ridiculous. Edie knows that many of the things she’s planning to do violate her mother’s strict rules—gloriously so. Still, by accomplishing everything on the list, maybe she can become the effortlessly brave adventurer she dreams of being, just like her daring cousin and bold grandmother.
For this one summer at least, Edie knows that bad ideas are the best shot she has at becoming who she wants to be.
For the most part, The Summer of Bad Ideas was a delight. Stewart has an obvious understanding of what it means to feel like the odd-person left out as a tween, and does a wonderful job of showing that awkward balance between equally loving and hating family, and also wanting to fit in with friends who have gone their separate ways. It's hardly a surprise that Edie finds her cousin Rae so alluring, and wants to model herself after her cousin, vis-a-vis their grandmother's list.
However, like any coming-of-age tale, Edie quickly learns that appearances are deceiving. While she's disappointed that Rae isn't necessarily the ideal person that Edie has made herself out to be. Stewart shows the ups-and-downs of their relationship brilliantly; she clearly understands the small things that can influence the ebbs and flows of a newly-developed familial relationship, and readers will empathize with Edie profoundly.
Where the book didn't fully work for me though, was that the resolution felt a bit hasty. It resolved itself too quickly, and I would have loved to see more. However, this is a personal preference, and I think that younger readers will likely see the abruptness of that resolution, as a reminder that there will always be a next time and a next summer for Edie and cousin.
Strongly recommend; this is a great way to kick of summer reading.