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The Summer of Bitter and Sweet

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In this complex and emotionally resonant novel, debut author Jen Ferguson serves up a powerful story about rage, secrets, and all the spectrums that make up a person—and the sweetness that can still live alongside the bitterest truth. Lou has enough confusion in front of her this summer. She’ll be working in her family’s ice cream shack with her newly ex-boyfriend—whose kis In this complex and emotionally resonant novel, debut author Jen Ferguson serves up a powerful story about rage, secrets, and all the spectrums that make up a person—and the sweetness that can still live alongside the bitterest truth. Lou has enough confusion in front of her this summer. She’ll be working in her family’s ice cream shack with her newly ex-boyfriend—whose kisses never made her feel desire, only discomfort—and her former best friend, King, who is back in their Canadian prairie town after disappearing three years ago without a word. But when she gets a letter from her biological father—a man she hoped would stay behind bars for the rest of his life—Lou immediately knows that she cannot meet him, no matter how much he insists. While King’s friendship makes Lou feel safer and warmer than she would have thought possible, when her family’s business comes under threat, she soon realizes that she can’t ignore her father forever.


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In this complex and emotionally resonant novel, debut author Jen Ferguson serves up a powerful story about rage, secrets, and all the spectrums that make up a person—and the sweetness that can still live alongside the bitterest truth. Lou has enough confusion in front of her this summer. She’ll be working in her family’s ice cream shack with her newly ex-boyfriend—whose kis In this complex and emotionally resonant novel, debut author Jen Ferguson serves up a powerful story about rage, secrets, and all the spectrums that make up a person—and the sweetness that can still live alongside the bitterest truth. Lou has enough confusion in front of her this summer. She’ll be working in her family’s ice cream shack with her newly ex-boyfriend—whose kisses never made her feel desire, only discomfort—and her former best friend, King, who is back in their Canadian prairie town after disappearing three years ago without a word. But when she gets a letter from her biological father—a man she hoped would stay behind bars for the rest of his life—Lou immediately knows that she cannot meet him, no matter how much he insists. While King’s friendship makes Lou feel safer and warmer than she would have thought possible, when her family’s business comes under threat, she soon realizes that she can’t ignore her father forever.

30 review for The Summer of Bitter and Sweet

  1. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. So grateful to Harper 360 YA for this ARC! TWs: mentions of sexual harassment and violence, racism, self harm and discussions of mental health. Please do check out other reviews here for more comprehensive CWs as this book handles some very heavy topics. Being a teenage girl is hard enough, and in this book we are firmly in the mind of one carrying far too much. Louisa is on the cusp of great change. Her world as she knows it is shifting around her as she spends the last summer before university s So grateful to Harper 360 YA for this ARC! TWs: mentions of sexual harassment and violence, racism, self harm and discussions of mental health. Please do check out other reviews here for more comprehensive CWs as this book handles some very heavy topics. Being a teenage girl is hard enough, and in this book we are firmly in the mind of one carrying far too much. Louisa is on the cusp of great change. Her world as she knows it is shifting around her as she spends the last summer before university scooping ice cream at her family’s shop. This is a time of discovery, and she has to face it independently while her mother is away on a much needed journey of her own. Friends resurface and open old wounds, family secrets come to light and the father she wanted to stay behind bars forever is now out. And he’s everywhere she goes. What this book does very well is maintain that prevailing sense of threat throughout. There was always the feeling of needing to look over your shoulder. This is a small town where everyone knows everything, and you knew danger was on the periphery even in the happier moments. Not just the danger her father represents, but that the environment she’s in poses to her family and friends. Louisa’s maternal family are Métis, and the book draws attention to the struggles Indigenous people - and women in particular - face in their town in the Canadian prairies. She and other BIPOC in her community are subject to microaggressions, sexual harassment and outright - sometimes physically violent - racism throughout the novel. There is one scene in particular when they encounter a drunk boy at a party and the aggression and violence detailed is harrowing. The fear was palpable then, and this only increased when they had an encounter with the police following it. These are heavy subjects to read about, but they are sadly all too pertinent. While this book drew on the social issues and inequalities they faced, Ferguson also incorporated some details about Louisa’s family life that I enjoyed so much: their connection to the land, the animals they took care of, the way they kept their language alive in the home, and the beadwork Louisa’s mother made and sold, to name a few. I have never read a book with an Indigenous protagonist before, let alone one who is a teenage girl, and so I really appreciated getting to read this! Throughout, there were a lot of allusions to fire: the warming and comforting kind, and the kind that destroys. Louisa had a clear narrative voice and we heard her think about far more than she ever said aloud, how she picked what to say to family and friends, how she was confused and afraid and mad. How she lied. And how there was a fire inside of her too. A fire whose smoke shrouded secrets. A fire made of rage. Anger at a world that let her mother get hurt and other people suffer, at the person she used to be. At knowing how she hurt people in protecting herself. This is a fire stoked by injustice, by expectations and by lies. One of my favourite parts of this book was the mystery surrounding it and slowly finding out where that image first came from for her, why people left after that and how everyone was connected. Louisa begins the book by ending an incredibly toxic relationship with someone whose coercive sexual advances she fundamentally did not want. This harassment is difficult to read about, and I wish I could say that was the worst of this character. But he instead just perpetuates this behaviour, does other awful things, and yet still gets a moment of “redemption” at the very end that I wasn’t expecting. I likewise wish that Louisa didn’t dismiss the concern of others by suggesting any physical involvement with him was remotely consensual after stressing how unwanted it always was. Throughout the novel, she develops a romantic relationship with an old friend, King. Though she never wanted anything physical with her ex, Louisa actually enjoys dating and kissing King. She is unsure if she will ever want sex, but his support provides her safe opportunities to explore physical intimacy and boundaries. As another review said, I was somewhat surprised that Louisa did not consider that she may be ace or demi until the labels were brought up by someone else towards the very end, and instead just referred to this aspect of her identity often throughout as something trauma-induced and non-functional. I understand that this stems from both her own experiences and the trauma passed down within the family, and the insecurity and doubt they created in her on this journey of self discovery cannot be dismissed. But I just felt the resolution could have been a bigger moment as I can imagine that reading those thoughts right up till the last 50 or so pages might be difficult. I really appreciated King as a character and the space and comfort he provided for Lou, which made the insensitive way he referred to a self-harming behaviour of Louisa’s as her “favourite little self harm” all the more upsetting for me. We are told Florence is Louisa’s best friend, but I was disappointed in how an aspect of their relationship played out. Florence is described for most of the summer to be in something of a “manic” episode. From Louisa’s perspective, her behaviour is erratic and unreliable, she is known to be drinking heavily alone at home, and can flake on responsibilities and plans. It is revealed that the last time this happened, her mother was able to help get her back on track. Despite everybody around her seeing her suffering in this period, no one intervenes, even though we know Louisa at least thinks to say something. Lou reasons that she didn’t want to point out that something might be wrong as she’d pushed away friends before and thought Florence would be mad at her. I don’t for a moment think that Louisa had the capacity to handle another teen’s mental health in addition to all of her own worries, but I do find it very difficult to accept her reasoning if they are meant to be best friends. I spent most of the novel hoping somebody would reach out, tell her parents or encourage her somehow, especially when she tells her friends that she had gone off of her medication when she thought she was better, had realised she was wrong, and had been lying about it since. But no one said anything until very late in the novel and even then I felt it was too little too late and not the easy fix it was made out to be. I really struggled to read this storyline. Beyond this, Florence was revealed to be “very” bisexual and in a long-distance relationship with a girl back home in Ireland. On this same page however, she talks about how attractive King is and a rift forms between the friends on this topic for a while, as Louisa suspects Florence’s friendship with him might be something more. It is later revealed - in a moment discussing Florence’s morals - that on different occasions she’s kissed other people at parties and told her girlfriend about it. King also uses Florence as a reference for his own bisexuality, stating that he’s not the “50-50” or “anything goes” kind of bi that Florence is. Whether or not it was meant to, this representation just really felt at times like it was playing into the ‘bisexual = promiscuous’ idea and I really did not enjoy that. I would say not to go into this expecting all the answers, because our protagonist doesn’t have them. She is learning, and beyond this book I’m sure she would get there. I feel like a lot needed to be resolved in those last 50 pages or so and although I appreciated the hopeful ending, some of the resolutions just unfortunately felt shallow to me. I would never expect these teenagers or their families to act perfectly. I liked how they had made mistakes and were moving on. I enjoyed the sense of mystery and danger, the family dynamic, sweet moments on dates, all of the ice cream, and this summer being a turning point, providing the space to discover things. I just thought that there were some very sensitive elements of this story that were not handled well enough for me.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Natasha Leighton

    4.5 stars Jennifer Ferguson’s complex, detailed and powerfully evocative debut is a deeply moving and poignant story that explores the topics of inter-generational suffering, colonialism, racism, sexism, and physical violence that BIPOC and indigenous people face daily basis. It’s a magnificently eye-opening (and honest) story full of rage, secrets and the bitter sting of injustice. But, it’s also full self acceptance, of exploring friendship dynamics (the good and bad) and embracing your commun 4.5 stars Jennifer Ferguson’s complex, detailed and powerfully evocative debut is a deeply moving and poignant story that explores the topics of inter-generational suffering, colonialism, racism, sexism, and physical violence that BIPOC and indigenous people face daily basis. It’s a magnificently eye-opening (and honest) story full of rage, secrets and the bitter sting of injustice. But, it’s also full self acceptance, of exploring friendship dynamics (the good and bad) and embracing your community, there’s sweetness too,in the love, hope and support that sufffuses Lou’s journey every step of the way. In the summer before she sets of for University, Lou spends her days working in her family’s ice cream shack with her ex boyfriend (who she never felt any desire for) and her former best friend, King, who has returned to their Canadian prairie town three years after leaving without a word. Despite the awkwardness of this situation, it’s the letter from her biological father—the man who has spent the entirety of her life behind bars—that sends her reeling and she knows she cannot meet him no matter how much he insists. King’s friendship makes her feel safer and warmer than she’s ever felt before (more than she though possible) but when her biological father puts her family’s home and business under threat she knows she cannot ignore him forever… Though it deals with some hard hitting topics such as rape, institutional racism, sexism and violence I think this is an absolutely perfect summer read, that I know will resonate with readers just as much as it has resonated with me. Lou was an absolutely compelling and multi-faceted character whose struggles with her identity (both in terms of her heritage and her sexual identity) were well crafted and really brought her to life. I was soo emotionally invested in Lou, and found myself hearbroken and angry on her behalf soo many times, her mother’s horrific ordeal and the experiences of so many indigenous characters really brought to light just how threatening life can be for native women. Ferguson does an incredible job highlighting the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Crisis currently being faced across Canada and the United States, and seeing soo many characters discussing it and taking action to protect one another was incredibly empowering to behold. I loved almost all of the characters (except for Wyatt, Doyle & Lou’s Bio father who I absolutely despised) and felt they were all really compelling and full of dimension, but I definitely had a soft spot for Tyler and Cami. King was also a really interesting character and I enjoyed just how patient and understanding he was with Lou—I also loved to see a healthier, positive friendship relationship to counter the toxicity surrounding Lou’s ex, Wyatt. I also loved the sheer breadth of diversity with Indigenous, BIPOC, LGBTQ+ / Ace and mental health rep that I felt was really sensitively and respectfully handled, I will definitely be reading more of her books in future. Overall, this is a powerfully resonant, relevant and utterly compelling novel that lovers of Contemporary YA should definitely check out! Also, a huge thank you to Harper360YA for this gorgeous proof.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Janna

    I really enjoyed reading this book. I specifically loved the little bits of information about ice cream and sorbets in the beginning of each chapter! In general, this story is definitely on the heavier side, there's frequent references to violence, sexual assault and more, so please have a look at the content warnings below. This book is described as a "summer ace-rep romance" - it surely is! If you're looking for ace/demi rep, this is a great read. The writing style is lovely and easy to understa I really enjoyed reading this book. I specifically loved the little bits of information about ice cream and sorbets in the beginning of each chapter! In general, this story is definitely on the heavier side, there's frequent references to violence, sexual assault and more, so please have a look at the content warnings below. This book is described as a "summer ace-rep romance" - it surely is! If you're looking for ace/demi rep, this is a great read. The writing style is lovely and easy to understand, there's an Indigenous main character, there are intriguing side characters and I really enjoyed the focus on the family-owned business, their problems and their relationships with each other. Personally, I had a bit of a problem with the bi rep though. I don't think we need any more cheating bi characters at the moment 😬 One of the bi characters is described as having cheated on her girlfriend twice. The main character is also constantly thinking that the bi character might hook up with the main character's crush. On top of that, she comes off as quite unlikeable and unreliable. The other bi character says (he) "prefer(s) women and people who lean femme. But (he) find(s) some cis guys attractive". That makes me question - does he not find trans guys attractive? Because they're trans? Why have the focus specifically on only finding CIS guys attractive? It had some transphobic undertones to me EVEN THOUGH I don't think it was intended. In general, the author tries to be trans-inclusive throughout the text, but this sentence made me a bit uncomfortable, nevertheless. Still, I think this book's worth a read if you're a fan of romantic contemporary novels which also discuss heavy issues! content warnings: references to a violent sexual assault, an instance of intimate partner abuse, instances of racism and physical assault towards Indigenous and Black teens, discussions of drug use, underage alcohol use I received an advanced review copy by Harper360YA in exchange for an honest opinion. initial thoughts: this was good but.. i have thoughts about the bi rep :/ i post about queer books here: instagram / tiktok /twitter

  4. 4 out of 5

    milliereadsalot

    Thank you so much to Harper 360 YA for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! I really loved the setting of the Canadian prairies in this book, first of all; I've never read a book in this setting before, and it was so evocative, I felt like I was right there alongside the characters. Our main character Lou, has a fantastic journey of growth and self-discovery which was so great to read about over the course of the story. I felt on edge throughout the whole t Thank you so much to Harper 360 YA for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! I really loved the setting of the Canadian prairies in this book, first of all; I've never read a book in this setting before, and it was so evocative, I felt like I was right there alongside the characters. Our main character Lou, has a fantastic journey of growth and self-discovery which was so great to read about over the course of the story. I felt on edge throughout the whole time reading this book, which is definitely the point - Lou is constantly looking over her shoulder, feeling eyes on her, feeling threatened, and we as the reader experience this sense of danger completely. I struggled a bit with the writing style, as it was a little confusing, but I did really love it at the same time; all of the allusions to fire and smoke were consistent throughout the novel and while I got confused about that at some points, it made for a really interesting narrative. There were quite a few parts of the book that I didn't agree with though. Lou ends a very toxic, manipualtive relationship at the start of the book, and then he gets a bit of a redemption, then it gets worse, and then he gets another moment of redemption at the end, even though he was really, truly awful to her and to other girls - I don't think the redemption was really necessary, honestly. I was also disappointed in how the mental health of Lou's best friend Florence was treated. We are told throughout the novel that Florence is in a 'manic episode', that she is erratic, and has come off her medication. But nobody intervenes, not even Lou, Florence's best friend. This kind of thing is not the easy fix that the ending makes it out to be, and I just think that if you're going to include bipolar disorder in a novel, you can't just treat it as dismissively as I felt this book did. There was also some pretty questionable bi rep in Florence and King; I can't speak for this myself as I am not bisexual, but from reading other reviews and even just from my own knowledge, I know that playing into the bi=slutty idea is not cool. I would say that if you like it when characters are imperfect, when they make mistakes, then you will definitely enjoy this - I liked how the characters messed up, it made them feel very real. There's a great family dynamic between Lou and her mother and her uncles, and the little notes at the start of each chapter on the ice cream flavours were a really fun addition. I just wish that certain elements of the story which can be quite personal and sensitive for a lot of people, were handled with more care.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ray

    I got to read an earlier draft of this book, and I still think about it regularly. It is so good. I can't wait until it's published so I can read it again! I got to read an earlier draft of this book, and I still think about it regularly. It is so good. I can't wait until it's published so I can read it again!

  6. 4 out of 5

    B | crumbledpages

    In her debut book, The Summer of Bitter and Sweet, Jen Ferguson takes a stand to tell a story about a Metís girl, Lou. Lou is starting to have a complicated summer. First of all, she will be working in an ice cream shop with her ex- boyfriend. She never felt comfortable kissing him and she doesn’t know why. On top of that, her former best friend King will also be working in the ice cream shop as well. But her summer is turned into further mess when she hears from her biological father- a man she n In her debut book, The Summer of Bitter and Sweet, Jen Ferguson takes a stand to tell a story about a Metís girl, Lou. Lou is starting to have a complicated summer. First of all, she will be working in an ice cream shop with her ex- boyfriend. She never felt comfortable kissing him and she doesn’t know why. On top of that, her former best friend King will also be working in the ice cream shop as well. But her summer is turned into further mess when she hears from her biological father- a man she never hoped to meet and hoped he’d stay behind bars forever. This is Lou’s story about how she managed complicated friendships and relationships, and how she started questioning her sexuality in order to find out who she is and what she wants. This book is PERFECT for summer! Reason? Ice cream shop. Not only just the ice cream shop, the vibe of this book screams summer. Hanging out with friends, being on a farm, descriptions of Canadian prairies, everything will remind you summer. The author’s note was heart-touching when she said she has never read a Metís woman, so she wrote one. And honestly, she nailed it. This is not your typical feel-good light YA book. This book is quite heavy. It deals with a lot and I think it dealt with everything well. I felt how vulnerable Lou felt inside but she tried so hard to be strong. At times, she was terrified but she faced everything with a brave face making her one of the most commendable protagonists I’ve ever read about. Overall, this is a very strong debut book. Also an important one. Can’t recommend this book enough.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Hayden (bookish.hayden)

    Thank you to Harper Collins Canada Frenzy for sending me this advanced reader copy! This was a really good read. It was tough at times, full of both sadness and joy, hardships and happy moments, and a plot that had me hooked instantly. CW: references and discussions surrounding rape, assault, racism, colonization, hate crime, alcohol consumption, arson, drug use, discussions surrounding mental health and medication, physical abuse, toxic relationship, bullying, cursing, racial slurs, sexual assau Thank you to Harper Collins Canada Frenzy for sending me this advanced reader copy! This was a really good read. It was tough at times, full of both sadness and joy, hardships and happy moments, and a plot that had me hooked instantly. CW: references and discussions surrounding rape, assault, racism, colonization, hate crime, alcohol consumption, arson, drug use, discussions surrounding mental health and medication, physical abuse, toxic relationship, bullying, cursing, racial slurs, sexual assault, sexual violence, grief, stalking, fire/Fire injury, gaslighting, abandonment This book has a good introduction that speaks to the tough subjects, trying to make sure that the readers stay safe. Lou was an interesting character, she's been through a lot and goes through a lot in this book. Lou learns a lot about her sexuality throughout this book, and throughout she realizes she's asexual. This book really hinges on Lou and the relationships she has with the other characters. She felt very real, struggling with money, coming out of a toxic relationship, missing her mother, the issues she's dealing with just felt so grounded. She experiences a lot of racism, as do other Indigenous characters within. King was a very interesting character, I loved him a lot. Smaller Canadian towns can be dangerous to young Black men, racism is very alive and rampant within Canada, I liked that he moved to Toronto and got to be around other Black teens. Toronto may have its faults, but in this case I'm just so happy that King had that experience. I liked the relationship he had with Lou, I really enjoyed their conversation on sexuality. Florence was a tricky character, I struggle with the absent/bad friend trope within YA, I really dislike it tbh. Both Florence and King are bisexual, and I struggled with the rep within, as at times it felt that Flo was leaning into the promiscuous bisexual trope, which is a tough one. But I will look to 2SLGBTQIAP+ reviewers for their thoughts on the bisexuality representation. I liked the family dynamics portrayed here, I think they were interesting. Lou's mother and uncles all had their own lives, and they were interesting through and through. The plot was really well done, very intricate and interconnected, which can be tough to execute. But everything flowed together well, and I really enjoyed it. Lou's father was terrifying in all honesty, and the plot surrounding him was tough to read at times but very well done. I loved the ice cream shop and the happy and bright plots surrounding that. The writing was exceptional, I was hooked instantly and couldn't put it down. The world within was so familiar, and I loved it. Ferguson is definitely an author I want to keep my eye on, this was a phenomenal debut. Overall I really enjoyed this, it's tough at times but very well done, with an interesting story within. Please check the content warnings within, as it's tough at times.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dayla

    I received a copy via the publisher for an interview with the author. This did not affect my rating in any way! Ferguson hits us with a few emotional punches in this book, so I suggest you go ahead and read the trigger warnings she includes at the very beginning of her book! I really enjoyed this one, even though I was constantly hoping for the MC, Lou, to do the right thing every time she faced a new situation. One of my favourite things that Ferguson mentioned in her interview was how every pers I received a copy via the publisher for an interview with the author. This did not affect my rating in any way! Ferguson hits us with a few emotional punches in this book, so I suggest you go ahead and read the trigger warnings she includes at the very beginning of her book! I really enjoyed this one, even though I was constantly hoping for the MC, Lou, to do the right thing every time she faced a new situation. One of my favourite things that Ferguson mentioned in her interview was how every person who asked her about Lou's choices and experiences at the age of eighteen was an adult. I would love to be able to ask a younger reader who's read this book what takeaways they might have gotten from reading about Lou's tumultuous and traumatizing summer. I absolutely loved how diverse this book was regarding sexuality and race, despite the stifling atmosphere that the story is set in. I loved seeing that as a bit of hope in such a corrupt and racist place. I especially thought it was important to see that this is set in a Canadian small town. Lou's journey to finding her identity was one that I think many will relate to. My favourite moment of her self-discovery is when she finally thinks that there isn't anything wrong with her. That was an especially powerful moment. I loved that ice cream was the sweetness of this book, alongside first love and self-discovery. I also appreciated the exploration of being a mixed teenager living in a world that could potentially treat you differently based on the race you choose to identify as. It resonated with me because it took me years to face my internalized racism. If you want more Indigenous and LGBTQ+ stories for the YA audience (and older--there is no age limit!), then I highly recommend you check this one out. I will repeat my warning from the beginning of this review and highly recommend that you check out the Trigger Warnings! Happy reading!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Starr ❇✌❇

    I received an ARC from Edelweiss TW: mentioned violent sexual assault, mentioned domestic abuse, violent hate crime, arson, mentioned addiction, sexual coercion, internalized racism & intentional white-passing, themes of racism and colonization 3.8 This is Lou's last summer serving ice cream, the last span of time before she leaves her family and her town, and has to discover life outside it. But it's a summer of change even before it's time to leave- because this summer she finally says no onc I received an ARC from Edelweiss TW: mentioned violent sexual assault, mentioned domestic abuse, violent hate crime, arson, mentioned addiction, sexual coercion, internalized racism & intentional white-passing, themes of racism and colonization 3.8 This is Lou's last summer serving ice cream, the last span of time before she leaves her family and her town, and has to discover life outside it. But it's a summer of change even before it's time to leave- because this summer she finally says no once and for all to the boyfriend she never even wanted to kiss, this summer and old friend and maybe love finds his way home, and, this summer she gets news that fills her with dread. Her biological father, her mother's rapist, is out of jail- and finding ways to sneak her messages and threats. With her m0ther gone for the summer and her uncles hiding things, Lou has never felt closer to falling apart. I think this book is a powerful one, and one that will mean a lot to people whose experiences are reflected here. This is a book filled with Indigenous life and prejudice against them, it's a book about shame and guilt, for what's within your control and what isn't. And for anyone this book begins to resonate with, I think they'll find a real experience here. I appreciate the rare representation here, as well as the heavy and important topics. There still aren't many books with Indigenous main characters, or main characters who identify on the a-spectrum. Seeing a demi girl grapple with her identity and figure out what it is and learn to accept and embrace herself is a new experience, and one I'm sure many people will see themselves in, and I can see helping other aspec people along in their journey. There's also good tension in this book. The looming threat of Peter England colors the page, as does the racial tensions and the never quite forgotten attitude of the new ex, but there's also good tension. The dynamic between Lou and King is nicely done. They feel like former friends but they also work almost immediately in a romantic situation, and Lou's actions always make sense, even if they don't play into what we as the reader want. But I had issues getting into this book. It was hard to connect, personally, and because this book wound up being a lot heavier than expected I wasn't prepared and in the right headspace that might have let me be closer to really enjoying this book. Instead I had to push myself through this. I also wish the characters had more dimension. Everyone but Lou felt painted with a very broad brush, and never quite turned into a fully fleshed person.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jacqueline Firkins

    A beautifully written coming of age story that's perfectly titled for its blend of sweet, bitter, and everything in between. Ferguson's prose is deeply lyrical with a distinct rhythm to its repeats and cycles, as she depicts a teen girl's pivotal summer before leaving the land, the family, and the friends she loves to start college. The story contains a lot of hardship, both external and internal, as Lou confronts racism, brutal abuse, threats from her newly-released-from-prison genetic father, A beautifully written coming of age story that's perfectly titled for its blend of sweet, bitter, and everything in between. Ferguson's prose is deeply lyrical with a distinct rhythm to its repeats and cycles, as she depicts a teen girl's pivotal summer before leaving the land, the family, and the friends she loves to start college. The story contains a lot of hardship, both external and internal, as Lou confronts racism, brutal abuse, threats from her newly-released-from-prison genetic father, generational trauma, and sexual coercion from her boyfriend. She also sells ice cream, builds deep friendships, talks to cows, reads paleontology websites, has a joyous date on the edge of a field of bison, and finds new ways of defining her relationship to love, her heritage, and her sense of truth. It's a lot, but Ferguson blends it all brilliantly, creating a realistic portrait of a girl who's only just beginning to figure it all out. She also weaves in thematic meditations on various spectra, from red to violet, from hard to soft, from past to future, from clear wanting to not-so-clear withdrawal. Full of vivid imagery and memorable characters, I hope this one finds its way to lots of teen readers, especially those struggling to embrace the parts of themselves society doesn't always deem acceptable, the parts the world doesn't always have words for, and sometimes, the parts the world has too many words for. Those teens will find themselves in this book, told through words that never sugar coat or pander or condescend. Stick around for the note from the author at the end as well. You won't escape this one without a few Big Feels, and without learning a few things. Maybe about Canadian culture and history, particularly in relationship to Indigenous life on the prairies. Maybe about the stories we tell and how or why we tell them. Maybe about ice cream. One way or another, this book leaves its mark on the heart, and isn't that what we always hope a good book will do?

  11. 4 out of 5

    Literary Redhead

    The Summer of Bitter and Sweet by Jen Ferguson HarperCollins Children's Books, Heartdrum Pub date: May 10 That fabulous cover drew me to Jen Ferguson's debut novel, The Summer of Bitter and Sweet, unlike any book I've read before. The MC Lou is a Métis Native who lives a harsh, difficult, and confusing existence on a Canadian prairie. She helps her family survive as they run a financially shaky ice cream shack. Her mother, a bead artist, quits her low-paying traumatic job to go on the road selling h The Summer of Bitter and Sweet by Jen Ferguson HarperCollins Children's Books, Heartdrum Pub date: May 10 That fabulous cover drew me to Jen Ferguson's debut novel, The Summer of Bitter and Sweet, unlike any book I've read before. The MC Lou is a Métis Native who lives a harsh, difficult, and confusing existence on a Canadian prairie. She helps her family survive as they run a financially shaky ice cream shack. Her mother, a bead artist, quits her low-paying traumatic job to go on the road selling her wares. And Lou's best friend soon leaves to explore dreams elsewhere, while her ex-best friend unexpectedly returns. As the title says, there are both bitter and sweetness in the gripping story, told through fully-fleshed emotionally real characters. An impressive debut! CW: Rape and partner abuse. This novel is released under HarperCollins' Heartdrum imprint -- which features intertribal voices, visions, and stories on Indian Country and the strength of young Native heroes -- in partnership with We Need Diverse Books. Thanks to author, publisher, and NetGalley for the ARC. Opinions are mine. #TheSummerofBitterandSweet #JenFerguson #Heartdrum #NetGalley #ownvoicesfiction #CanadianMetisNovel #comingofagefiction #diversityinfiction #bookstagramcommunity

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca (onmybookitlist)

    This was the first time I read alongside the audiobook and I highly recommend that because as I was crying and my vision got blurry I still had the audio to listen to. This book was intense. There were a lot of heavy topics being discussed but also a lot of sweet moments which balanced out some of the bitter ones. Please check the content and trigger warnings before reading this book. Some include racism, discussions around rape, toxic relationships, assault and hate crime, gaslighting and sexual This was the first time I read alongside the audiobook and I highly recommend that because as I was crying and my vision got blurry I still had the audio to listen to. This book was intense. There were a lot of heavy topics being discussed but also a lot of sweet moments which balanced out some of the bitter ones. Please check the content and trigger warnings before reading this book. Some include racism, discussions around rape, toxic relationships, assault and hate crime, gaslighting and sexual violence. I really enjoyed getting to know Lou’s family and the found family aspects within this story made me happy. We get to see Lou and her coming to self discovery with herself and her identities. This book is raw and intense but also has softer moments within to create the sweetness in the title. Lou’s friends were supportive yet each had their own issues to get through and I wish more spotlight was on them only to flush them out more and get to know them better. I absolutely loved King. I definitely recommend checking Indigenous and 2SLGBTQ+ reviewers for the representation being discussed. Thank you Harper Collins Canada Frenzy for the ARC and for hosting this lovely read-along.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    A wonderful debut YA novel featuring Lou, a demi/asexual Métis girl living on the Canadian prairies. Ferguson masterfully balances the light with the dark as Lou struggles with generational trauma, family secrets and her sexuality over a summer working with her friends at the family creamery. I really loved the care the author put into the content warning note at both the beginning and end of the book not to mention the AMAZING queer and BIPOC rep in the main characters. The story doesn't shy aw A wonderful debut YA novel featuring Lou, a demi/asexual Métis girl living on the Canadian prairies. Ferguson masterfully balances the light with the dark as Lou struggles with generational trauma, family secrets and her sexuality over a summer working with her friends at the family creamery. I really loved the care the author put into the content warning note at both the beginning and end of the book not to mention the AMAZING queer and BIPOC rep in the main characters. The story doesn't shy away from talking about violence against Indigenous women as well as sexual assault, rape and incidents of racism. Sprinkled throughout, however, are lighter notes at the beginning of each chapter about interesting ice cream flavors and color facts which I enjoyed so much and found helped break up the heavier tones of the story. Great on audio narrated by Julie Lumsden and highly recommended for fans of The fire-keepers daughter by Angeline Boulley. I can't wait to see what's next by this author and am really excited for Heartdrum, the new HarperCollins imprint focused on Indigenous stories and authors.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Thank you to HarperCollins Canada for an advanced e-arc in exchange for my honest opinions. NOTE: I cannot speak to the representation in this book. Please read reviews from Indigenous and/or Indigenous reviewers in the LGBTQIA2S+ community. I have been trying to put my thoughts together since finishing this novel. I had thought the premise sounded so interesting, and when I heard that it was an Indigenous LGBTQIA+ novel set in Canada, I was sold. I absolutely loved getting to hear Jen Ferguson sp Thank you to HarperCollins Canada for an advanced e-arc in exchange for my honest opinions. NOTE: I cannot speak to the representation in this book. Please read reviews from Indigenous and/or Indigenous reviewers in the LGBTQIA2S+ community. I have been trying to put my thoughts together since finishing this novel. I had thought the premise sounded so interesting, and when I heard that it was an Indigenous LGBTQIA+ novel set in Canada, I was sold. I absolutely loved getting to hear Jen Ferguson speak at an HCC Frenzy event as well. There were a few things I really liked about the book: The exploration of friendship, and how different friendships can look or function differently. Some are easy to continue or go back to, while others take a lot of work. And just the dynamics of friend groups, one-to-one friendships, and how they change over time. I like that the friendships were just as important as family in the novel. The family relationships. They aren't perfect, they are more realistic than most novels make them seem. Families argue, struggle, but stay close and important. The depictions of racism, especially anti-Indigenous racism, was dealt with well in the novel. There were the difficult pieces, the difficult conversations, people coming together to support, falling apart because of it, and the persistence of it in a small community. So many people think that racism isn't something that happens in Canada, but it is. And to see it in a novel is a reminder that it is as big of an issue here as it is in other places. I absolutely loved all of the Canadian references, terms, places. Mentions of Timmies, bunnyhugs, the Royal Tyrrell Museum - all of it! There are so rarely books set in Canada, and I am always so excited when I find ones that talk about places I know, things I recognize immediately. Ordering a double double and vanilla dip at Timmies? Hells yes. My Canadian heart is happy haha. The two pieces that I struggled with, though, were very large and integral parts to the story - I think that's why I couldn't rate this any higher. It made my enjoyment dampen a bit. There is so much lying, deceit, anger, secrets. While teenagers have secrets, and I could never speak to the issues and difficulties that Lou has faced, I really struggled with the lies and secrets. They were so prevalent and big, they overtook the story in a way. I understand that part of it was the fallout of keeping secrets, but it seemed like that was thrown out multiple times in the story before things started to get better. And the biggest fallout about secrets happened before this book even takes place, something we are only given hints to. The bigger one that I struggled with though was the acephobia. It was really hard to read, since it was both internalized and external. I understand that is common and acephobia is so prevalent in today's world, but it was really hard to read it. It's not even discussed in more detail until the very very end of the novel. I wish it had been discussed sooner because it felt almost like a "convenient" wrap-up - and I hate saying that, but things were kind of quickly discussed and worked through VERY quickly at the end, after being a major issue through the whole book. I think I was just definitely not the audience for this book. And that's okay. I did take a lot away from reading it, but there are others who this book might be better for. TW: acephobia, racism, abandonment, alcohol, blood, bullying, classism, cursing, gaslighting, injury, fire, medical content, mental illness, physical abuse, rape (off page), murder (MMIGW) (off page), emotional abuse, abortion, sexual assault, sexual violence, toxic relationship

  15. 5 out of 5

    Bethany Dickey

    Thank you so much to HCC frenzy for an arc of this book!! I loved reading a book set in the prairies, I'm from the East Coast but the setting felt so real and evocative. It did take me a few chapters to get into the writing style but I was hooked after that and read the book in one sitting! I did feel that some of the side characters could have been more fleshed out, and the 'villain' felt quite cartoonish. However, Lou made it for it with her strong character growth and believable journey. So much Thank you so much to HCC frenzy for an arc of this book!! I loved reading a book set in the prairies, I'm from the East Coast but the setting felt so real and evocative. It did take me a few chapters to get into the writing style but I was hooked after that and read the book in one sitting! I did feel that some of the side characters could have been more fleshed out, and the 'villain' felt quite cartoonish. However, Lou made it for it with her strong character growth and believable journey. So much important representation in here as well! Really glad I read this

  16. 5 out of 5

    Forever Young Adult

    Graded By: Amanda B. Cover Story: Beading Is Medicine BFF Charm: Natalie Imbruglia Swoonworthy Scale: 4 Talky Talk: Poetic and Real Bonus Factors: Alberta Landmarks Abound!, Tasty Business Anti-Bonus Factor: A Little on the Nose Relationship Status: One and Done Read the full book report here. Graded By: Amanda B. Cover Story: Beading Is Medicine BFF Charm: Natalie Imbruglia Swoonworthy Scale: 4 Talky Talk: Poetic and Real Bonus Factors: Alberta Landmarks Abound!, Tasty Business Anti-Bonus Factor: A Little on the Nose Relationship Status: One and Done Read the full book report here.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sayak

    3.5/5

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    This is a beautiful, complex, and heartfelt story, and it was such a treat to get to know these characters. My thoughts on this book are in this wrap up video. This is a beautiful, complex, and heartfelt story, and it was such a treat to get to know these characters. My thoughts on this book are in this wrap up video.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Trigger Warning Database

    Trigger & Content Warnings: Amisia Racism & racial slurs Rape recounted, off-page Cheating mentioned, off-page Alcohol consumption Smoking Abortion mentioned Teen pregnancy recounted Blackmail Stalking

  20. 4 out of 5

    Gary Anderson

    The Summer of Bitter and Sweet (Heartdrum, 2022) is the strong young adult novel debut from Jen Ferguson, a biracial (Michif/Métis and white) author with ties to the Indigenous peoples of Canada. Like the author, the main character Lou is biracial. Just graduated from high school, Lou is spending her last summer before college working at her family’s quirky ice cream shack where the ice cream flavors are influenced by the Indigenous family’s familiarity with local plants and agricultural practic The Summer of Bitter and Sweet (Heartdrum, 2022) is the strong young adult novel debut from Jen Ferguson, a biracial (Michif/Métis and white) author with ties to the Indigenous peoples of Canada. Like the author, the main character Lou is biracial. Just graduated from high school, Lou is spending her last summer before college working at her family’s quirky ice cream shack where the ice cream flavors are influenced by the Indigenous family’s familiarity with local plants and agricultural practices. Lou’s past is complicated. She has spent time away from her family passing as white. For most of the book, Lou’s mother is away from home trying to make a living from her beadwork. Lou, her uncles, and her friends run the ice cream shack while also planning their uncertain futures and trying to reconcile their troubled pasts. The harrowing revelations about Lou’s background are as carefully threaded through the novel as the intricate images in her mother’s beadwork, so I can’t say much more about the plot other than it focuses on the violence that is so commonly perpetrated against Indigenous women in both Canada and America. The Summer of Bitter and Sweet is one of the first releases from Heartdrum, a new imprint from HarperCollins Publishers curated by Cynthia Leitich Smith and dedicated to stories by Indigenous authors centered on young, heroic Natives. As you read this book, don’t be surprised to find yourself looking at Reyna Hernandez’s cover art and seeing it differently as you go through the story. The Summer of Bitter and Sweet is a book to recommend to young readers who like complex characters, elements of suspense, cultural depth, romance that avoids tropes, and ice cream. This review appears in slightly different form on my What’s Not Wrong? blog.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Chloe

    This book. Wow! I barely know where to start. This story was so beautifully written. This is a perfect summer read, it’s filled with complexities. It has highs and lows, it’s raw and real, it made me angry and made me smile, it’s sweet and it’s bitter. The characters are all well rounded and draw you in. Loved the representation (I also recommend looking for Métis and Ace reviewers for their feelings on the representation). What I enjoyed about the representation was that I can’t recall another This book. Wow! I barely know where to start. This story was so beautifully written. This is a perfect summer read, it’s filled with complexities. It has highs and lows, it’s raw and real, it made me angry and made me smile, it’s sweet and it’s bitter. The characters are all well rounded and draw you in. Loved the representation (I also recommend looking for Métis and Ace reviewers for their feelings on the representation). What I enjoyed about the representation was that I can’t recall another book that features a Métis or Asexual main character, and we need to have these stories told! I will pick up anything else this author writes. This was seriously a beautiful story. I recommend you pick it up, it’s out now! Thank you SO much @hccfrenzy for sending me an advance copy to review! Rating: 4.5/5 stars ⭐️

  22. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    Thank you Harper Collins for an advanced readers copy of The Summer of Bitter and Sweet. Please look up the trigger warnings for this book, some of them include racism including physical violence, police brutality, and racial slurs. Sexual assault, MMIWG, mental health issues including bipolar disorder, and drug abuse etc. If I could give this book more then 5 stars I would. This may be my favourite book I’ve read this year, if not one of my top books of all times. Lou’s story was so incredibly Thank you Harper Collins for an advanced readers copy of The Summer of Bitter and Sweet. Please look up the trigger warnings for this book, some of them include racism including physical violence, police brutality, and racial slurs. Sexual assault, MMIWG, mental health issues including bipolar disorder, and drug abuse etc. If I could give this book more then 5 stars I would. This may be my favourite book I’ve read this year, if not one of my top books of all times. Lou’s story was so incredibly powerful, she’s so full of hurt and pain but with the support of her family and friends she’s able to work through her experiences with an amazing support system. I loved how the book weaves elements of ice cream and traditional beadwork into the story. It made me feel so connected to these characters and the heart of the story of embracing your community and identity. At a Harper Collins event they had Jen Ferguson and Kim Stewart, the person who worked on the beadwork for the book. I think it’s so amazing they had someone actually create the beadwork in the story and it just adds this amazing element to the book that just connects the reader to the story. This was an amazing debut novel and I can’t wait to see what else Jen Ferguson writes!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nic Ojo (bujos_n_books)

    When a novel doesn't exist with you as the protagonist then create it! This is a well written novel exploring what it means to be comfortable in your skin. While I've never had the luxury to "pass," this concept isn't new. I just never knew it existed in the Native American community. The trauma that Lou was born out of never gets addressed. This is my only hang up with this story. The supporting cast was just that, supportive. King is my favorite character. When a novel doesn't exist with you as the protagonist then create it! This is a well written novel exploring what it means to be comfortable in your skin. While I've never had the luxury to "pass," this concept isn't new. I just never knew it existed in the Native American community. The trauma that Lou was born out of never gets addressed. This is my only hang up with this story. The supporting cast was just that, supportive. King is my favorite character.

  24. 4 out of 5

    savanna waddle

    i really loved this book

  25. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    Amazingly well written. Deals with a lot of issues, but doesn't feel overstuffed. Made me really want ice cream. Amazingly well written. Deals with a lot of issues, but doesn't feel overstuffed. Made me really want ice cream.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Taylor

    More of a 4.5, but it deserves the round up. Thank you so much to Epic Reads and Harper Collins for the finished copy of The Summer of Bitter and Sweet! This book deserves so much recognition. Jen's writing is phenomenal, the dialogue is perfect, and the characterization is some of the best. I think I would read anything Jen writes if its all like this. The Summer of Bitter and Sweet isn't easy to read. The story hits hard. Jen doesn't shy away, but she also includes a very nice trigger warning li More of a 4.5, but it deserves the round up. Thank you so much to Epic Reads and Harper Collins for the finished copy of The Summer of Bitter and Sweet! This book deserves so much recognition. Jen's writing is phenomenal, the dialogue is perfect, and the characterization is some of the best. I think I would read anything Jen writes if its all like this. The Summer of Bitter and Sweet isn't easy to read. The story hits hard. Jen doesn't shy away, but she also includes a very nice trigger warning list right before the story starts (I fell in love with Jen right there. She comes across as someone kind and so caring). The world needs more Lous and Kings. Flawed humans who are working so hard to be the best versions of themselves for those they love.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Lynn Lano

    Loved the Indigenous rep! Would love to see more queer Indigenous novels get published! LGBT+ rep: asexual or demisexual female Métis Nation mc with aesthetic preference for men bisexual Black male sc bisexual Irish female sc in a long-distance wlw relationship various achillean scs Other rep: Métis Nation (Indigenous Canadian) mc and scs Michif language Black sc CW: detailed depictions of food harmful asexual stereotypes (resolved later) sexual assault (in the form of continued unwanted sexual pressure Loved the Indigenous rep! Would love to see more queer Indigenous novels get published! LGBT+ rep: asexual or demisexual female Métis Nation mc with aesthetic preference for men bisexual Black male sc bisexual Irish female sc in a long-distance wlw relationship various achillean scs Other rep: Métis Nation (Indigenous Canadian) mc and scs Michif language Black sc CW: detailed depictions of food harmful asexual stereotypes (resolved later) sexual assault (in the form of continued unwanted sexual pressure from a bf) abusive teen relationships smoking teen pregnancy (in the past) rape (in the past, off-page) being ashamed of/hiding one’s heritage/ passing purposefully as white racism racial slurs violence, assault blackmail underage drinking cheating mentioned, off page abortion mentioned drug use mentioned stalking sexual situations (not graphic) mc = main character sc = secondary character bc = background character

  28. 4 out of 5

    Gina Adams

    A slice of life summer story that's literally both bitter and sweet.. she lives up to her name as well as she can besties Lou is Metis, an Indigenous Canadian. She lives with her mom and two uncles - and her mom is traveling the summer after Lou graduates high school, leaving Lou to work at her family's ice cream shop. Lou starts the book by breaking up with her boyfriend she feels no attraction to... and the very next day, the ice cream shop opens, where he's one of the four employees. The third A slice of life summer story that's literally both bitter and sweet.. she lives up to her name as well as she can besties Lou is Metis, an Indigenous Canadian. She lives with her mom and two uncles - and her mom is traveling the summer after Lou graduates high school, leaving Lou to work at her family's ice cream shop. Lou starts the book by breaking up with her boyfriend she feels no attraction to... and the very next day, the ice cream shop opens, where he's one of the four employees. The third is her best friend, and the fourth is King, an old friend she has history with who's back in town. Her mom's pregnancy with her was the product of a rape and assault by a white man, and Lou finds out via increasingly threatening letters that her biological father is out of prison, living in town, and wants something from her. Lou comes to be somewhat romantically interested in King, if not sexually, and she eventually learns more about herself and the fact that she may be on the asexual spectrum. At first she believes it's something deeper inside of her, something that knows how she was conceived and has sworn off sex. She learns that nothing's wrong with her, she's not some broken person sexually because of her life circumstances - she's just asexual (actually probably demisexual but she just starts the learning process as the book is ending) She's grappled before with being white passing, and just pretending to be white, out of ease and privilege. The book tackles racism that both Indigenous people and Black people face, and King rightfully calls Lou out for being able to pass as white while he, a Black guy, doesn't have that option. The first time they were friends, Lou was lying (or just omitting the truth) and was just pretending to be white, so there's some trust to be regained between them - King also left without saying goodbye, so they both have their reasons to be wary of each other. The racism and misogyny Lou faces is realistic but it's freaking sad. She handles it about as well as she can, but the way people treat Indigenous people is really disgusting. The stereotypes about drinking, the questioning the quality of motherhood and family homes, and also just the concept that so many Indigenous people go missing or are murdered without much fanfare. Lou's best friend is bipolar and spends a lot of the book in different phases, being hard to reach, being flaky, being manic, etc. I'm not too sure about this representation one way or another, but even though Lou seemed aggravated by her sometimes she was never mean to her or treated her like a bad person. It just didn't have too much of an ending as far as "storylines" go. I liked this book because I read far outside of my own experience, but I also just liked it because it was a good summer read that sort of encapsulates female/teenage rage but also the softness of loving your friends and family and learning to date etc It's not a big dramatic book, but it's really just a good story and I recommend it!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bailey Marie (she/her)

    In Betweenie #12 - Wow I loved this book. I loved it endlessly. Well actually, all cards on the table I found the first couple chapters where we were getting to know Lou and hadn’t yet started into the meat of the story felt a little bit… forced? or something like that? perhaps because there were so many secrets Lou had that were mentioned but still withheld so it felt like I couldn’t actually get to know her yet, but once I got a little bit further in and we started to really get into Lou’s summ In Betweenie #12 - Wow I loved this book. I loved it endlessly. Well actually, all cards on the table I found the first couple chapters where we were getting to know Lou and hadn’t yet started into the meat of the story felt a little bit… forced? or something like that? perhaps because there were so many secrets Lou had that were mentioned but still withheld so it felt like I couldn’t actually get to know her yet, but once I got a little bit further in and we started to really get into Lou’s summer - WOW. I had a hard time putting this one down. I loved that the author included a content warning and particularly that she said; “If you’re not ready now, that’s okay. This book will always be here. If you’re never ready, that’s okay as well. If you’re reading and need to stop, guess what, totally okay. And I’m the author saying this, so believe me. I found healing writing Lou’s story, and if you do read it, I hope you find what you need too.” This felt like such a beautiful and healthy beginning to a book and I appreciated it endlessly. I loved the characters, Lou felt so honest and raw and confused and frustrating and angry and exactly like a teenager should, King was so beautifully written and complex in such a beautiful way. I also loved how all the other family and friends were given full lives and stories in a really succinct way, based on most books I’ve read that seems like a difficult feat to keep “side characters” robust and interesting without having them take over the story, but the author did it seamlessly. The story was also beautiful, it was intense and it was hard and awful and it was sticky and complicated and it was frustrating and it was fun and exciting, but I think that’s what I love most in books, when they do a good job mirroring how complicated and messy and confusing real life can be. Once I got past the first couple more intro-y chapters I always felt fully engrossed in the story, wondering where it would lead next and holding my breath in the twists and turns. I also loved how beautifully culture was woven into the story, I loved learning about Lou’s Métis heritage and ached deeply with her for all the injustices and racism she faced in so many different ways from micro to very macro aggressions. I love reading novels about folks who are different from me, it feels like such a beautiful way to gain learning and get closer to understanding. I’m already itching to share this story with others (I’ve already texted one friend that I’ll bring it to our workout class this week if she likes reading fiction) and so I highly highly recommend it to all of you as well!

  30. 5 out of 5

    greyreads

    Thank you to HCC Frenzy for sending me an ARC! This does not influence my opinion at all. How do you review a book about such serious issues? A book that left you with a major book hangover? A book that is LITERAL perfection??!! This were the questions I was asking myself over and over and over since finishing this book. Jen Ferguson has written and incredible master piece(and now I will read everything she ever writes) first off, please be aware that this books contains some major trigger warni Thank you to HCC Frenzy for sending me an ARC! This does not influence my opinion at all. How do you review a book about such serious issues? A book that left you with a major book hangover? A book that is LITERAL perfection??!! This were the questions I was asking myself over and over and over since finishing this book. Jen Ferguson has written and incredible master piece(and now I will read everything she ever writes) first off, please be aware that this books contains some major trigger warnings, for racism, hate crimes, r*pe, s*xual assault, assault, and death. Now I did find some parts of the book to be triggering(due to some past traumas of my own) so please check out a full detailed list of the trigger warnings before reading. The Summer of Bitter and Sweet is the story of a demisexual Métis girl on the Alberta prairies, learning to reconnect with her heritage, heal and deal with generational traumas, figuring out her asexuality, healing with family and friends, and also dealing with her white bio father (who r*aped her mom) who has just got out of jail and is harassing her and her family. Lou is such a realistic, compelling teen MC that you will root for, shake your head at, and love the entire book. I loved this book so so much. I loved the characters, the setting at the ice cream shack, I loved the bits of ice cream facts at the beginning of each chapter, I love who much love and dedication obviously went into this book, I loved seeing Lou reconnect with being Métis and truly learning to be herself and be brave. (Side note, King is one of the best characters and I will fight anyone who says otherwise) My only gripe with this book was that Flo was the cheating bisexual trope, a pretty damaging stereotype for bi people. Even though it was only a minor mention, it was still there. Overall this book is a masterpiece, with beautiful Indigenous and asexual representation, a book everyone should read! It’ll break your heart, make you cry, make you smile and leave you wanting another book because the characters are so lovable. 5/5 stars!!!!!!!!

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