Summary (courtesy of GoodReads):
Summer Stetson lives inside a shrine to her dead sister. Eclipsed by Shannon's greatness, Summer feels like she's a constant disappointment to her controlling, Type A momzilla and her all-too-quiet dad. Her best friend Gibson believes Summer's C average has more to do with rebelliousness than smarts, but she knows she can never measure up—academically or otherwise.
On her birthday, Summer receives a secret gift from her aunt: Shannon's diary. Suddenly, the one-dimensional vision of her sister becomes all too solid. Is this love-struck, mom-bashing badass the same Shannon everyone raves about? Determined to understand her troubled sister, Summer dives headfirst down a dark rabbit hole and unearths painful family secrets. Each revelation brings Summer closer to the mysterious and liberating truth about her family—and herself.
And here's what I thought: I liked the plot of this book, where Summer reads Shannon's diary and discovers what her sister was really like, as opposed to the sister she thought she knew. Because all that Summer knows of Shannon is through her parents, and all the photos and awards around their house, she has developed her own ideas about her sister. However, when her aunt gives her Shannon's diary, her vision of Shannon is shattered. The fact that Shannon is dead adds a lot of mystery to the story, but what held my attention was the idea: how well do we know our own family? If you are much younger, or older, than a sibling, you can wind up not really knowing them well at all. Getting to know someone through a diary is especially thought-provoking because you are getting their direct thoughts on their experiences.
As for the characters, I have to admit that I didn't always like Summer. I could understand that she had the attitude she did about school, and her family, but she at times became so obsessed with the diary, and her sister, that she completely blew off Gibs, who has been nothing but supportive of her. Her single-minded focus seemed a little annoying to me at times. Her mom, on the other hand, seemed a bit too.... much. I understand that some parents are very focused on their children's successes, pushing them all the time to do better, get better grades, etc. However, Summer's mom seemed to take things to a whole new level. It sometimes seemed like her mom was a little two-dimensional at times. Summer's father, on the other hand, just seems like he lets his wife run the show --- it's like he has almost no spine.
Overall, though, I found this to be an enjoyable story, mostly because the idea of getting to know a sibling was interesting to me. The whole family dynamic kept my attention, as did the mystery of what really happened the night Shannon died.
First sentences: "Your mom."
Gibs nodded toward the audience and I follow his gaze.
Mom is sitting next to Leah Rollins' mother in the middle of the packed auditorium. They chat discreetly, leaning towards each other and holding Chapel Heights High School Honor Day programs over their mouths. Mom clings to the fantasy that Leah Rollins and I are still best friends (Leah cut me loose in ninth grade), and is no doubt telling Leah's mother that we girls just have to get together soon.
Thoughts on the cover: I thought it was interesting how the ink-drawn heart opened up to show part of a girl's face. Question is: whose face is it? Summer? Shannon? I liked the possibilities.