The Summer of Bitter and Sweet

The Summer of Bitter and Sweet
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Release Date
May 10, 2022
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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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The Summer of Bitter and Sweet
(Updated: June 08, 2022)
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Lou is biracial-half white and half Metis/Michif and works the summer at her uncle's ice cream shack. She just broke up with Wyatt and wonders why she didn't feel anything whenever they were together. Add to this her biological father has just been released from prison and is insisting on a relationship. Plus, King, an old friend, is back in town and brings up new feelings. Life can be bitter and sweet.

What worked: Powerful coming of age story of secrets and intergenerational trauma of Indigenous women and girls set in a Canadian town. Strong, complex characters and relationships make this a total must-read. Perfect for the summer!

There are many things that go on in this novel. There's how Lou tries to figure out her sexuality and why she doesn't feel any connection/chemistry when she's with her boyfriend. Wyatt does come across as a real jerk more than a few times on how he handles Lou's rejection.

Lou's biological father is then released from prison and insists strongly that she have a relationship with him. The emotions and struggles Lou goes through are very real here. This man raped her mother when she was sixteen. He now demands Lou recognize him as her father and basically stalks her. The intergeneration trauma of Indigenous girls and women is shown in a very real light.

I really liked how her childhood friend King reappears in her life. He brings up his own secrets about why he suddenly left town and the reason why he didn't tell her. His presence makes sense and I was hoping throughout the novel they'd connect. A big plus was how, after Lou shared her fears, he didn't force her into something she didn't want.

Racism is also addressed in more than a few places. There's racism against the Indigenous people in the Canadian prairies. One scene shows when Lou goes to a pharmacy to purchase a card for King's father and how the clerk makes blatant racist, sexual comments to her. How some in town assume that all Indigenous people are alcoholics and how the police are seen as someone not to trust.

The author does a good job portraying Lou's friend Florence's bipolar disorder. Lou and the others know Florence struggles with her illness. Kudos for not showing the stereotypical portrayal. As someone who grew up with a bipolar father, uncle, and brother I know personally that each person's experience is different.

Complex, realistic portrayal of a girl and the secrets not only in her life but in her town.

Good Points
1. Powerful coming of age story of secrets and intergenerational trauma of Indigenous women and girls set in a Canadian town.
2. LBGTBIA+ representation
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