Rebellious teens, idiotic dares, sassy best friends, gorgeous boys and lots of ice cream!
No. of pages: 304
The summer you turn sixteen is supposed to be unforgettable. It’s the stuff of John Hughes movies and classic songs, of heart-stopping kisses and sudden revelations. But life isn’t always like the movies. . .
For Sean Jackson, sixteen is off to an inauspicious start. His options: take a landscaping job in Georgia with his father, or stay in his small New Hampshire hometown, where the only place hiring is the local ice cream shop. Donning a pink t-shirt to scoop sundaes for tourists and seniors promises to be a colder, stickier version of hell. Still, he opts to stay home.
On his first day at work, Sean meets Becky, a wickedly funny New York transplant. The store manager, Jay, is eighteen, effortlessly cool, and according to Becky, “likes” Sean the way Sean’s starting to like him. But before he can clear a path to the world that’s waiting, Sean will have to deal with his overprotective mother, his sweet, popular girlfriend, Lisa, his absentee father, and all his own uncertainties and budding confusions.
When I was reading this, it felt like sitting around with a bunch of friends reminiscing about our summers in high school – it was realistic, intimate and heart-warming.
‘If I Told You So’ really captures those moments of first love – or first contact and physical closeness. The innocence and naivety wrestling with hormonal forces beyond control. The urgency. And the finality of actions and words. This felt a little like it could be anyone’s adolescent coming out story. It had an easy appealing feel with a positive message even though it is about the difficult process of exploring sexual identity.
Sean Jackson is relatable and genuine, he is refreshingly honest and leaves judgements at home. I liked him from the get-go, determined to blaze a trail of his own away from his Fathers plans of manual labour in the family business. The parentals are always trying to instil lessons of a work ethic and learning the value of the dollar, and it’s so much more fun addressing that on your own terms – even if it is at a campy ice cream parlour or a MacDonalds franchise.
Becky is also witty and straight-to-the-point as his new best friend. We all need someone to call us on our shiz… Plus she was there to give Sean a gentle shove when he needed one. And let’s not forget Jay, the manager at the ice cream parlour that Sean becomes so enamoured with. The way their friendship develops felt so real, and Jay does a great job as the patient mentor (at work and in coming out). Such a wonderful cast of endearing characters, painting them at face value until they prove themselves something different.
It is brilliantly light-hearted, with a jovial narrative that really pulls you into the coastal small town. I was easily lost in this pleasant read, devouring it in one sitting. Great for a lazy day at the park or beach.
It was fairly predictable, but in a good way – you are jostling for a happy ending from the start as the characters are all so loveable. If you like sweet contemporaries that leave you feeling warm and fuzzy, then this one is for you.
Overall feeling: Such sugary goodness I can’t stop…
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