The Summer I Wasn't Me

The Summer I Wasn't Me

4.5 7
by Jessica Verdi

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Lexi has a secret.

She never meant for her mom to find out. And now she's afraid that what's left of her family is going to fall apart for good.

Lexi knows she can fix everything. She can change. She can learn to like boys. New Horizons summer camp has promised to transform her life, and there's nothing she wants more than to start over.



Lexi has a secret.

She never meant for her mom to find out. And now she's afraid that what's left of her family is going to fall apart for good.

Lexi knows she can fix everything. She can change. She can learn to like boys. New Horizons summer camp has promised to transform her life, and there's nothing she wants more than to start over.

But sometimes love has its own path...

"A powerful indictment of reparative therapy—a sweet love story—and an unforgettable main character!"—Nancy Garden, author of Annie on My Mind

"Unflinching honesty and unfaltering compassion...A gem of a novel."—RT Book Reviews, 4 ½ stars, Top Pick of the Month on My Life After Now

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Lexi is a likable protagonist with wide appeal. Many teens can relate...This title is recommended as a quality piece of fiction in a teen collection, and especially as part of an LGBTQ collection." - VOYA Magazine

"Lexi's earnest efforts to protect her mom from further grief...are poignant and powerfully conveyed... a sweet love story between two protagonists who both heartily deserve a break, and who manage to find one another even in the unlikeliest of settings...offers undeniable appeal to romance buffs." - The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Book Reviews

""Lexi's...relationship develops in a satisfying way...a fine additional purchase for libraries looking to shore up their LGBT collection"" - Booklist

"Kids' doubts and misgivings about both identity and religious beliefs get a good airing here, and two books familiar to high school readers, The Great Gatsby and the "Harry Potter" series? provide an interesting backdrop for these discussions" - School Library Journal

VOYA, June 2014 (Vol. 37, No. 2) - Dianna Geers
At New Horizons, young men and women are taught how to fight off their SSA (Same Sex Attraction). Lexi agrees to attend as she wants to fix herself and her relationship with her heart-broken mom. The staff consists of successful graduates of New Horizons, a place where they teach residents how to be proper young men and women; explain how their parents and society guided them toward their illness; and how they must fix it. As much as Lexi wants to change, she grows concerned with some of the program’s practices. When another camper is publicly beaten to rid him of his “homosexual demons,” Lexi has to decide if she is strong enough to take on the truth: Maybe she cannot be changed and New Horizons is not only unethical, but also breaking the law. Inspired by Lady Gaga’s song, “Hair,” Verdi has offered an uncomfortable, but realistic, journey into conversion (or reparative) therapy programs. Lexi is a likable protagonist with wide appeal. Many teens can relate to an adolescent who wants to please her mother and struggles with identity and fitting in, losing a father, trying to conform, and needing to call on her inner strength to challenge a leader, a system, or even her own beliefs. The only part of the story that seems unbelievable is the camp itself. Unfortunately, the practices at the camp are very much real. This title is recommended as a quality piece of fiction in a teen collection, and especially as part of an LGBTQ collection. Reviewer: Dianna Geers; Ages 12 to 18.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Lexi Hamilton feels her homosexuality is too much of a burden on her recently widowed mother, so she agrees to go away for the summer. At Camp Horizon, a Christian "un-gaying" institution on the East Coast, each teen reveals his or her past trauma in group therapy sessions led by the evil Jeremiah Martin. What keeps campers cooperating is that, like Lexi, the reality they've gotten away from seems much worse. Only Matthew, in love with Justin at home, remains aloof, until Mr. Martin selects him for his personal brand of mistreatment, and a rebellion ensues. Kids' doubts and misgivings about both identity and religious beliefs get a good airing here, and two books familiar to high school readers—The Great Gatsby and the "Harry Potter" series—provide an interesting backdrop for these discussions. The trouble with The Summer I Wasn't Me is that since Lexi is likable from the start, we know she isn't going to change; good for her, but tough on readers, who must endure a contrived and drawn-out ending that attempts to convert this too-long novel into a page-turner.—Georgia Christgau, Middle College High School, Long Island City, NY

Product Details

Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)
HL730L (what's this?)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

My mother drives right past the New Horizons sign.

"Um, Mom?" I touch her arm gently.

She doesn't respond. She's zoning out again. But these moments have been happening a lot less often lately. Maybe soon they won't be happening at all.

"Mom," I say again, louder. "You missed the turn."

She finally snaps out of it and glances in the rearview mirror, where the New Horizons sign is still slightly visible.

"Oh!" She pulls a sudden U-turn, and my insides do somersaults. I knew I shouldn't have let her drive. She glances at the clock. "Sorry, Lexi."

She makes the correct turn this time around, and I manage a reassuring smile. "It's okay."

The narrow road up the mountain is so winding and bumpy that we're forced to creep along at a measly ten miles per hour.

A thick forest surrounds us. The trees are dark and plush and reach up and over the rocky road like a fringed canopy. As we inch forward, the amorphous blob of green foliage comes into focus and I can see each leaf and branch in perfect clarity. I roll down my window and take a deep breath. It's so quiet here. I rest my chin on the window jam so that all I see is the forest slowly rolling by. My mind takes me back in time, where I'm riding in a horse-drawn carriage through untouched woods.

But as we progress up the mountain, hints that this place is not quite as natural as it first seemed begin to emerge. The tree branches above us have been pruned back from the road. The narrow strip of grass that buffers the road from the tree line has been neatly cropped. Flowers sprout in patterns too perfect to be accidental.

Someone has gone to a lot of trouble to manipulate the raw landscape into some preconceived idea of what nature should look like. Goosebumps trickle across the back of my neck as I realize that's exactly what they're going to do to me too.

About halfway up the mountain, the signs start popping up. They line the edge of the road, sticking up out of the perfectly manicured ground.

You are on the road to truth.

Help is on the way.

God's love heals us all.

I look down at my lap and run my left thumb over the tiny lightning bolt tattoo on the inside of my right wrist. Everything this tattoo means is about to change.

Salvation waits just around the next bend!

Almost there.

With no warning, a deer leaps out of the woods and sprints across the road in front of our car.

"Look out!" I shout.

My mother slams on the brakes, and the car skids forward on the gravel, missing the deer by mere inches. It scampers off into the woods unharmed, but we're still too stunned to move. My knuckles have gone ghost white from my death grip on the dashboard, and my chest stings from where the seat belt jerked too tightly against my skin-but it's my mother I'm worried about.

"Are you okay?" I ask once I've regained control of my voice.

Mom is facing me, her brown eyes wide, red splotches on her fair face and neck. The simple gold cross around her neck sways gently back and forth.

Though my heart is still thrashing around wildly under my ribcage, I unbuckle my seat belt and grab her shoulders. "Mom, talk to me. Are you all right?" She nods, and I exhale in relief. "Okay, I'm driving the rest of the way. Switch places with me."

"I'm fine, Lexi-" she begins, but I'm already out of the car and opening the driver's side door. She sighs and scoots over to the passenger seat.

I readjust the seat and the mirrors, make sure my mother is buckled in, and we resume the final leg of our journey. After rounding the next bend, the hill levels out and the woods open up. Ahead is a palatial log cabin with a wraparound porch. A woman waves to us from the front steps, her smile so big it looks painful.

I park the car, and the woman rushes over to help with my bags.

"Hello! You're right on time," she chirps. "I'm Brianna." She's in her midtwenties and dressed in head-to-toe pink, from her pink New Horizons T-shirt and sparkly pink capris to the bright pink elastics holding her pigtails in place. I tune out her perky words of welcome and stare up at the giant banner hanging over the log cabin's entrance, a prominent lump developing in my throat.

Welcome to New Horizons, it reads in tall, imposing block letters. And beneath that, Say good-bye to homosexuality; say hello to your new life!

I take a deep breath and follow Brianna and my mom up the path.

Here we go.

Meet the Author

Jessica Verdi lives in Brooklyn, NY, and received her MFA in Writing for Children from The New School. She loves seltzer, Tabasco sauce, TV, vegetarian soup, flip-flops, and her dog. Visit her at and follow her on Twitter @jessverdi.

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Summer I Wasn't Me 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This bok is by far one of the best books i have ever read. It is so realistic an relateable that you just cant not like it.
DahlELama More than 1 year ago
I adored this book. After really enjoying MY LIFE AFTER NOW, and being incredibly impressed by the premise Verdi chose to tackle there, I was immensely curious what her next would be. This book did not disappoint :) I am also admittedly a little biased because though I read quite a bit of LGBTQ YA lit, I've found that for one reason or another, this was the first f/f I've read that did not possess unbearable pacing, a boundary-disrespecting love interest, or a weak, unromantic love story. So, bonus points right there. I think a lot of what works about THE SUMMER I WASN'T ME is that Lexi isn't a snarky heroine, going into de-gay-ification camp with a bad attitude about its absurdity. That would be easy, and obvious, and given that presumably most readers of this book are going in with that attitude for her (present company included), it was cool to see her have a legit reason for wanting it to work. In general, I appreciated the variety of reasons people were there, and that not every one was a result of a combination of parental force and religious guilt. And I love books about groups of friends, rather than just one girl and her frenemy BFF, so I loved the aspect of the camp that split them into groups of four and gave us time with other characters, too. This is a book I not only enjoyed but am simply glad exists. For all that it may wrap up too neatly for some, so much is wonderfully thought-provoking, at times really fun, and at times really difficult. Exactly as it should be.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I know she's only published tewo books, but I love them both that much. I love complexities both of them, and I love the romance in this one. I bought both in paperback as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really loved everything about this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am absolutely in love with this book! I am a teenage lesbian and I love this so much! I'D RECCOMEND IT TO EVERYONE
Sarah_UK1 More than 1 year ago
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to SOURCEBOOKS Fire and Netgalley.) 17-year-old Lexi is going to an anti-gay camp for the summer because her mother found out that she was in love with another girl and didn’t like it. When Lexi gets to camp she’s immediately attracted to another girl there called Carolyn, and though she tries to fight her feelings, it’s clear that Carolyn has wormed her way into her heart. Will the anti-gay camp work? Or will things work out for Lexi and Carolyn? This was a really cute story about a group of kids sent to an anti-gay Christian camp for the summer, to rid them of their SSA (same sex attraction). I really liked the main characters in this book, they were all such good people! Lexi was great. I totally got how she felt when her mother got upset with her for being gay; with her father dead it was difficult for her to feel like she had disappointed her mother, even to the point where she wondered if camp really could de-gay-ify her, just to please her mother. Carolyn was so sweet! She was such a beautiful character, and it was easy to see how right Carolyn and Lexi were for each other. I really liked Carolyn. Matthew was also a fave! He was so sure of himself and knew exactly what he wanted, even if that went against what everyone else wanted him to want. The way he tried to get Carolyn and Lexi together, and the way he compared Jesus to Harry Potter was pretty awesome! The storyline in this was pretty good, and didn’t go exactly the way I thought (which was good). He little twists and turns in the story were pretty entertaining, and I enjoyed this book more because it wasn’t quite so straight-forward. There were some really interesting details such as the fact that the people at the camp wore t-shirts that said - "Say good-bye to homosexuality; say hello to your new life!" (so bad!) The romance in this was between two girls Lexi and Carolyn, and while I wouldn’t immediately pick a GBLT romance over a heterosexual romance story, I really liked this! Lexi and Carolyn really were so sweet together, and so right for each other that their gender really didn’t make a difference, which is really quite a beautiful thing. The ending to this was also pretty good, and I was so glad that we got a happy ending! Yay! Overall; sweet GBLT romance, with some twists and turns! 7 out of 10.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago