My Last Summer with Cass

Little, Brown. Mar. 2021. 256p. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9780759555464; pap. $17.99. ISBN 9780759555457.
Gr 8 Up–After spending eight summers together at a cabin in Topinabee, MI, childhood friends Megan and Cassandra parted ways at 13 when Cass moved to New York City after her parents’ divorce. Years later, Megan convinces her overprotective parents to let her visit Cass in New York for three weeks while they are on a nearby business trip. Art brought the friends together back in Topinabee, but as they delve further into their shared passion, they realize their time apart and different family lives have led them in wildly divergent directions, on and off the canvas. The artwork has a pencil-sketch aesthetic, and the coloring alternates among understated shades of blue, green, and orange that take on a cotton-candy softness, complementing Megan’s do-gooder personality while contrasting with Cass’s exuberance and free-spiritedness. Though the art is stunning, the story is predictable and the main characters underdeveloped. That Megan’s character growth happens off the page undermines her conflict between pleasing her parents and pursuing her dreams. Megan and Cass present as white, as do the majority of the secondary characters; Cass’s sculptor friend Bahati appears to be Black. Small-scale but visible male frontal nude art, some cursing, and underage drinking are portrayed.
VERDICT A beautifully depicted friendship and self-discovery story that misses the mark. An additional purchase.

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