Say Yes Summer by Lindsey Roth Culli

I forget where I came across this book – either way I was approved for NetGalley ARC and jumped right in. After reading the first couple of chapter, regardless of what my final thoughts were going to be, I knew that reading this book at this time was just perfect timing.

Too bad I can’t do my own ‘summer of yes’ this year considering the Covid-19 virus is still keeping most things closed.

Blurb: The perfect book to kick off summer! For as long as Rachel Brooks can remember, she’s had capital-G Goals: straight As, academic scholarship, college of her dreams. And it’s all paid off–after years of following the rules and acing every exam, Rachel is graduating at the top of her class and ready to celebrate by . . . doing absolutely nothing. Because Rachel Brooks has spent most of high school saying no. No to dances, no to parties, and most especially, no to boys.

Now, for the first time in her life, there’s nothing stopping Rachel from having a little fun–nothing, that is, except herself. So when she stumbles on a beat up old self-help book–A SEASON OF YES!–a crazy idea pops into her head: What if she just said yes to . . . everything?

And so begins a summer of yes. Yes to new experiences and big mistakes, yes to rekindled friendships and unexpected romances, yes to seeing the world in a whole new way. This book is a fresh and fun take on the coming-of-age novel that explores the quintessential themes of growing up: taking risks, making mistakes, and, of course, love. And who knows? Lindsey Roth Culli’s hilarious and heartwarming debut may just inspire your own SAY YES SUMMER.

I’ve never heard of this author and totally thought that this was a debut novel, but turns out her first book was published about four years ago. I will say though, that this book kind of read like a debut – it felt like there could have been a little more polishing with the flow of writing/ plot and a little more depth to some of the characters.

First, I love this concept. The concept of realizing that the way you’ve been living hasn’t lead you to live your best life. I also think back to the movie Yes Man .. clearly this idea is not new, but the stories that writers can create with the idea can be a lot of fun.

Say Yes Summer kind of accomplished that, but also fell flat a little with really executing and having fun with the idea of a character saying yes to everything and have a bunch of adventures, good and bad.

Our main character, Rachel, realizes how much she may have missed out on while giving the valedictorian speech at her high school graduation. During her high school career, she was always solely focused on school, getting the grades and the extracurricular activities she needed to get into her first choice college. She had everything planned out. Except a social life beyond her one best friend.

This is where I think a little more was needed to really jump start the plot. After the ceremony, her long time crush extends an invitation to a small get together. After saying no, she stumbles across a self-help book about saying yes to basically everything. That puts the idea of summer of yes into Rachel’s mind. And she starts with the party her crush, Clayton, invited her to. It just didn’t feel the most natural.

From this point in the plot, I was expecting fun adventures and deep learning of herself beyond being studious and smart. Honestly, the beginning set up a story where the main focus seemed to be Rachel stuck between her crush Clayton, and her long-time friend from childhood, Miles. Don’t get me wrong, I was expecting some kind of romance. However, I didn’t really expect it to be the main focus. And Rachel didn’t even fully comprehend an important lesson about saying yes or saying no – her grandmother had to tell her; after everything kind of blew up in her face. Although honestly, I might not have figured it out either if I was eighteen again. Who knows.

As for the romance, Rachel messes up big time with both Clayton and Miles. However, after her apology to one of them, he accepts, but then he kind of just disappears. It’s like this character was just put in to make things complicated. When I definitely don’t think it was that necessary. I think it would have been more interesting to make this one character just a friend. An additional issue I had was that the characters didn’t feel fully developed or just a little on the flat side.

I thought the writing was good, just not really good. There were several parts where a character is talking, gets interrupted, and then it’s just a new scene. Even if there was a clear paragraph break, it was still a little jarring to just not have those conversations finished.

Overall, it definitely hit the mark for a simple and cute YA story that was an easy read. While I enjoyed reading it, I would have enjoyed it a whole lot more if the plot and characters were just a little more developed.

This book was kindly provided to me for free in exchange for an honest review via Netgalley. This has not impacted my review in any way.

Have you heard of this YA book? What are your thoughts on doing a summer or season of yes? Let me know in a comment!

2 thoughts on “Say Yes Summer by Lindsey Roth Culli

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