Fifteenth Summer

Book review by
Kate Pavao, Common Sense Media
Fifteenth Summer Book Poster Image
Bookish girl finds love -- and herself -- in sweet romance.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Could spark some good discussions about love and romance -- and what it means to be in a truly healthy relationship. See our "Explore, discuss, enjoy" section for some ideas for bridging these topics with your teens.

Positive Messages

Chelsea gains several important insights about love, including: "This was part of having a boyfriend I'd never imagined -- the best friend part."

Positive Role Models & Representations

Over the summer, Chelsea learns what love feels like, starts to move on after the death of a loved one -- and even starts to like what she sees in the mirror (including her wild red hair). She's surrounded by supportive people who love her, including the other workers at a local diner, her protective sister, and slightly odd parents.

Violence
Sex

This is a summer romance and as such features lots of kissing. Chelsea and Josh spend time alone, smooching and touching. Meanwhile, her older sister comes home with a hickey after starting a summer fling of her own (her sister's crush ends badly when she shows up with red eyes and a broken shirt strap).

Language

One "ass" and one "butt," but neither are used to describe a body part.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Fifteenth Summer is a summer romance and as such features lots of kissing. Chelsea and Josh spend time alone, smooching and touching -- and her older sister comes home with a hickey after starting a summer fling of her own (her sister's crush ends badly when she shows up with red eyes and a broken shirt strap). There are lots of positive messages that will inspire teens to think about what a first love should be, such as this gem from Chelsea: "This was part of having a boyfriend I'd never imagined -- the best friend part."

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What's the story?

Chelsea and her family head from Los Angeles to the small town of Bluepointe, MI, to spend the summer at her recently deceased grandmother's cottage as her parents debate what to do with the property. There Chelsea meets -- and quickly falls for -- Josh, the serious son of the new bookstore's owners. Between getting over her beloved grandmother's death and figuring out if she's in love for the first time, Chelsea's young heart is getting quite a workout.

Is it any good?

FIFTEENTH SUMMER may not be steeped in realism, but for readers who like happily sighing through romantic books and movies, this will be a good fit. The small town is outrageously charming, from a cinematic party hosted on a dock by local teens -- which ends when they send hand-painted lanterns into the night sky -- to the quirky sisterhood of waitresses at the local diner, who take Chelsea under their wings and give her a summer job, as well as wise advice when it looks like her relationship with Josh is fizzling out.

Chelsea and her family are constantly doing charming things, such as berry picking, taking gourmet picnics to the beach, and throwing marshmallows at the screen during Lifetime Original Movie watching. And these form the backdrop for the main story about Chelsea sharing romantic outings and smooches with her summer soul mate. Certainly something to swoon over.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about romantic books and movies. What does Fifteenth Summer have in common with other media in the genre? 

  • Do books like this one help us create positive expectations of what a first love should be like -- or do they set the bar too high? Do any of your friends' first romances seem like this one?

  • Chelsea says: "I'd dreamed about the kissing and hand-holding. But I'd had no idea that the most mind-blowing part of dating could be the talking." Do you think most teens share her perspective? Should they?

Book details

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