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Cruel Summer    by Alyson Noel order for
Cruel Summer
by Alyson Noel
Order:  USA  Can
Griffin, 2008 (2008)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

With her parents in the middle of an unpleasant divorce, seventeen-year-old Colby Catherine Cavendish is (from her perspective) exiled to the small Greek island of Tinos for the summer, to stay with her 'Crazy Aunt Tally' and Tally's boyfriend Tassos. Colby gleans from her guidebook that Tinos is 'a place where religious pilgrims, doves, and villagers all hand wash their delicates right smack in the middle of the town square.'

The move happens at a time in Colby's life when she is making some bad choices - hanging out with super shallow but popular Amanda, dropping her old best friend Natalie, and losing her virginity to gorgeous Levi (Amanda's male equivalent in both shallowness and popularity) who doesn't seem to value her much. Though Aunt Tally's 'austere, serene island life' at first leaves Colby cold and she spends most of her time at the Internet café (despite the disapproval of its owner, Petros) the lifestyle gradually grows on her, especially after she meets the amazingly hot Yannis.

While on Tinos, Colby writes a blog entitled (at first) Cruel Summer, and tries to guess who's reading it and leaving anonymous comments. She adopts a kitten, hangs out at the beach with Yannis, and tries not to be bothered by news from home - their house for sale, her father's new girlfriend etc.. Then Levi shows up on a nearby island, traveling with his family, Colby makes another bad call, and things go quickly awry. But of course, it all works out eventually as Colby's Cruel Summer draws to an end and she comes to the realization that 'Paradise is a state of mind!'

Though Cruel Summer addresses the usual sort of teen angst, it stands out from its peers for both its unusual Greek island setting, and for the honesty and vulnerability of Colby's blog and journal entries. It makes for an absorbing read.

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