Scarlett has anxiety, which is currently being treated, but she still bears the scars from cutting and she worries that others will find her damaged. Her awful boyfriend feeds into these fears, while also pressuring her to have sex and proclaiming himself to be a good boy/nice guy (you figure out very quickly that he is not).
Amelia Grace and her mother live under the patriarchal/misogynistic thumb of her stepfather and his church. After an unfortunate coming out in front of the congregation, Amelia Grace has been ostracized until she can go back in the closet. She feels torn between religion and being true to herself. She is also in love with one of the other girls she will be staying with for the summer.
Ellie is dealing with cyber bullying and is desperate to make some real friends. She is excited for this summer and hopes to make the other girls into her BFFs by the end. When they find an old charter for a Southern Belle Drinking Club, Ellie latches onto the idea, and they all decide to accomplish something impossible for the summer.
What I loved: This has a big feeling of sisterhood and camaraderie that I really enjoyed. The girls each really come to life throughout the book. I also liked the juxtaposition of churches in that religion and sexual orientation do not always have to be at odds. The book is overall positive and about living and loving and sharing everything with your friends.
What left me wanting more: A lot of issues are treated at a very superficial/surface level. It may be because we are following so many characters (the four girls and their mothers), but I think I would have cut down on the character drama (every single one had something big) and focused in on a few key storylines so that we could go a little deeper and explore more.
Final verdict: Overall, this YA contemporary fiction is a celebration of friendship and the families we create. This is a summer of growth, opportunity, and gained wisdom. Would highly recommend for fans of THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS.