Summer of Naked Swim Parties (P.S. Series)

( 31 )

Overview

Fourteen-year-old Jamie will never forget the summer of 1976. It's the summer when she has her first boyfriend, cute surfer Flip Jenkins; it's the summer when her two best friends get serious about sex, cigarettes, and tanning; it's the summer when her parents throw, yes, naked swim parties, leaving Jamie flushed with embarrassment. And it's the summer that forever changes the way Jamie sees the things that matter: family, friendship, love, and herself.

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Overview

Fourteen-year-old Jamie will never forget the summer of 1976. It's the summer when she has her first boyfriend, cute surfer Flip Jenkins; it's the summer when her two best friends get serious about sex, cigarettes, and tanning; it's the summer when her parents throw, yes, naked swim parties, leaving Jamie flushed with embarrassment. And it's the summer that forever changes the way Jamie sees the things that matter: family, friendship, love, and herself.

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  • The Summer of Naked Swim Parties
    The Summer of Naked Swim Parties  

Editorial Reviews

Ellen Sussman
“Jessica Anya Blau creates a charming protagonist, her charismatic Santa Barbara family and a summer of love, lust and confusion. You won’t want summer - and this wonderful book - to end.”
New York Magazine
"Sadly, not a photo essay, but rather a witty account of the agonies and ecstasies of a girl coming of age in late-seventies California."
John Barth
“Jessica Anya Blau’s debut novel, THE SUMMER OF NAKED SWIM PARTIES, is a delight: a California beach girl’s hilariously painful adolescence in the High 1970s.”
Madison Smartt Bell
“You may think you’ve heard this story before, but no one tells it as wittily, winningly, wisely and well as Jessica Anya Blau.”
Michael Kimball
“Funny and charming, moving and sweet—Jessica Anya Blau beautifully captures the awkwardness and the wonder of coming of age. The Summer of Naked Swim Parties is a remarkable debut novel.”
Hillary Carlip
“Once you dive in to this sweet, sparkling coming of age story, dripping with heart and heartbreak, you won’t want to come up -- even for air.”
Jonathan Selwood
“Having grown up in 1970s Southern California, I can personally attest to this novel’s utterly uncanny evocation of the era. It’s also really really fucking funny…”
Gabriel Brownstein
“Jessica Anya Blau is a warm and funny storyteller. THE SUMMER OF NAKED SWIM PARTIES conjures the thrills and anxieties of a 1970s California adolescence in a world awash in sex.”
Stephen Dixon
“Ms. Blau is a writer of wit, intelligence, deep feeling, humor and imagination, and she gets into the head of a young person like almost nobody since J.D. Salinger. All aboard!”
Geoffrey Becker
“Among the many truths in this intelligent, funny novel about family, sex, and coming of age in the 1970s is this: no one can embarrass us more than our parents.”
Larry Doyle
“This book will make you laugh and cry in public. Jessica Anya Blau has written a soaring teenage lament, perfectly pitched, containing the single saddest and funniest line of seduction ever uttered.”
Booklist
“Move over, summer of love. Here comes the summer of naked swim parties . . . [Blau] knows adolescence inside out . . . [S]he skewers what needs skewering and celebrates the rest with humor, style, and an appropriate degree of affection.”
New York magazine
“Sadly, not a photo essay, but rather a witty account of the agonies and ecstasies of a girl coming of age in late-seventies California.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“It’s hard to recall a debut as warm, charming and comically satisfying as THE SUMMER OF NAKED SWIM PARTIES . . . Blau conveys Jamie’s world with compelling insight and wit . . . [Blau’s] sharp observation and affectionate humor [give] surprising depth to this shimmering novel.”
Cosmopolitan
“Reading this heartfelt and humorous coming-of-age story is the perfect way to spend a hot summer day.”
Time Out New York
“Recovered Judy Blume addicts, brace yourselves for a relapse: Jessica Anya Blau’s debut novel, set in Santa Barbara, California, during the summer of ’76, is a poignant, gleeful ode to the turbulence of growing up . . . [A] dead-on portrayal of the simple yet shocking revelations of youth.”
Oklahoma City Oklahoman
“A fantastic beach read about painful adolescence in the 1970s.”
Boston Globe
“High and low comedy, nude swimming, and familial frenzy float through [THE SUMMER OF NAKED SWIM PARTIES] like pot smoke.”
Publishers Weekly

In this debut novel, Blau addresses the coming-of-age of a young girl as she navigates her way through the confusion of adolescence. Fourteen-year-old Jamie lives in Santa Barbara with her 16-year-old sister, Renee, and their parents, Allen and Betty, two swinging, pot-smoking, part-time nudists. It's 1976 and Jamie isn't altogether comfortable with her parents' lifestyle, while Renee turns to straighter neighbors for a surrogate family. Overly anxious Jamie ends up with Flip, the cutest surfer in town. Before long they have progressed way beyond kissing, and Allen and Betty's casual ways result in a disaster that turn the family into pariahs in their middle-class neighborhood. Blau understands the mating rituals of 1970s teens, and she reproduces their mindless chatter with ease. Unfortunately, not all of the characters are fully realized; the adults, generally treated more obliquely, give off no more than hints of character. It's obvious that their excessive hedonism will eventually cause tragedy, so the book does have a growing dread that blossoms in the third quarter, but the reader may be left with the impression that all this ground has been covered before. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
VOYA - Angelica Delgado
The summer of 1976 spreads out before Jamie like the endless ocean near her Santa Barbara home. Not even the prospect of entertaining hick cousin Jan dampens her enthusiasm for the dazzling time ahead. As the nation prepares for its bicentennial, Jamie hopes to celebrate some independence of her own, perhaps by finding love-or simply insatiable lust-with hunky, surfer-dude Flip at Disneyland, or more important, by overcoming the revulsion toward her parents' lecherous, skinny-dipping, and oft-stoned friends. In the midst of summer's bounty of sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll, and the pursuit of bronze skin, Jamie finds death, comfort food, and the transformation of relationships with her friends and family. Whether describing her heroine's hilarious first forays into sexual activity or the antics of a pesky house guest named Dog Feather, Blau fashions an admirable debut coming-of-age novel. Readers will not be lost in a barrage of esoteric popular culture references; the novel is less about 1970s nostalgia than characters struggling to find a connection with those around them. Unfortunately the anticlimactic ending detracts from the author's poignantly beautiful prose and phrasing. It works best when thought of as a series of vignettes instead of a continuous narrative. The frank discussion of teenage sex and marijuana use could be off-putting to some, although Blau's writing is so engaging she may win over her detractors nonetheless. Expect to hear more about this charming new writer in the future. Reviewer: Angelica Delgado
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061452024
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/27/2008
  • Series: P.S. Series
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 719,986
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Jessica Anya Blau is the author of the nationally bestselling novel The Summer of Naked Swim Parties and the critically acclaimed Drinking Closer to Home.

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Read an Excerpt

The Summer of Naked Swim Parties
A Novel

Chapter One

After all, it was the seventies, so Allen and Betty thought nothing of leaving their younger daughter, Jamie, home alone for three nights while they went camping in Death Valley. And although most girls who had just turned fourteen would love a rambling Spanish-style house (with a rock formation pool, of course) to themselves for four days, Jamie, who erupted with bouts of fear with the here-now/gone-now pattern of a recurring nightmare, found the idea of her parents spending three nights in Death Valley terrifying. Jamie was not afraid for Allen and Betty—she did not fear their death by heat stroke, or scorpion sting, or dehydration (although each of these occurred to her in the days preceding their departure). She feared her own death—being murdered by one of the homeless men who slept between the roots of the giant fig tree near the train station or being trapped on the first floor of the house, the second floor sitting on her like a fat giant, after having fallen in an earthquake.

Jamie's older sister, Renee, was also away that weekend, at a lake with the family of her best and only friend. But even if she had been home, Renee would have provided little comfort for Jamie, as her tolerance for the whims of her younger sister seemed to have vanished around the time Jamie began menstruating while Renee still hadn't grown hips.

"I invited Debbie and Tammy to stay with me while you're gone," Jamie told her mother.

They were in the kitchen. Betty wore only cutoff shorts and an apron (no shoes, no shirt, no bra); it was her standard uniform while cooking. Betty'slarge, buoyant breasts sat on either side of the bib—her long, gummy nipples matched the polka dots on the apron.

"I know," Betty said. "Their mothers called."

Jamie's stomach thumped. Of course their mothers called. They each had a mother who considered her daughter the central showpiece of her life. "So what'd you say?" Jamie prayed that her mother had said nothing that would cause Tammy's and Debbie's mothers to keep them home.

"I told them that I had left about a hundred dollars' worth of TV dinners in the freezer, that there was spending money in the cookie jar, and that there was nothing to worry about."

"What'd they say?"

"Tammy's mother wanted to know what the house rules were."

"What'd you say?"

"I told her there were no rules. We trust you."

Jamie knew her parents trusted her, and she knew they were right to do so—she couldn't imagine herself doing something they would disapprove of. The problem, as she saw it, was that she didn't trust them not to do something that she disapproved of. She had already prepared herself for the possibility that her parents would not return at the time they had promised, for anything—an artichoke festival, a nudists' rights parade—could detain them for hours or even days. There was nothing internal in either of her parents, no alarms or bells or buzzing, that alerted them to the panic their younger daughter felt periodically, like she was an astronaut untethered from the mother ship—floating without any boundaries against which she could bounce back to home.

Allen walked into the kitchen. He'd been going in and out of the house, loading the Volvo with sleeping bags, a tent, lanterns, flashlights, food.

"You know Debbie and Tammy are staying here with Jamie," Betty said, and she flipped an omelet over—it was a perfect half-moon, and she, for a second, was like a perfect mother.

"Why do all your friend's names end in y?" Allen asked.

"Tammy," Jamie recited, "Debbie . . . Debbie's i e."

"But it sounds like a y."

"So does my name."

"You're i e," Betty said, "You've been i e since you were born."

"Yeah, but Jamie sounds like Jamey with a y."

"There's no such thing as Jamie with a y," Allen said. "But there is Debby with a y."

"Well Mom's a y—Betty!"

"I'm a different generation," Betty said, "I don't count."

"And she's not your friend, she's your mother," Allen said.

"Oh, there's also Kathy and Suzy and Pammy," Betty said.

"No one calls her Pammy except you," Jamie said.

"Too many y's," Allen said. "You need friends with more solid names. Carol or Ann."

"No way I'm hanging out with Carol or Ann."

"They've got good names." Allen sat on a stool at the counter, picked up his fork and knife, and held each in a fist on either side of his plate.

"They're dorks," Jamie said.

Betty slid the omelet off the pan and onto Allen's plate just as their neighbor, Leon, walked in.

"Betty," he said, and he kissed Jamie's mother on the cheek. His right hand grazed one breast as they pulled away from the kiss.

"Allen," Leon stuck out the hand that had just touched Betty's breast toward Allen, who was hovered over his omelet, oblivious.

"Did you find some?" Allen asked.

"I stuck it in your trunk," Leon said.

"What?" Jamie asked.

"Nothing," Allen said, although he must have known that Jamie knew they were talking about marijuana. They rolled it in front of their daughters, they smoked it in front of them, they left abalone ashtrays full of Chiclet-sized butts all over the house. Yet the actual purchasing of it was treated like a secret—as if the girls were supposed to think that although their parents would smoke an illegal substance, they'd never be so profligate as to buy one.

"So what are you going to do in Death Valley?" Leon asked.

Allen lifted his left hand and made an O. He stuck the extended middle finger of his right hand in and out of the O. The three of them laughed. Jamie turned her head so she could pretend to not have seen. Unlike her sister, Jamie was successfully able to block herself from her parents' overwhelming sexuality, which often filled the room they were in, in the same way that air fills whatever space contains it.

The Summer of Naked Swim Parties
A Novel
. Copyright © by Jessica Blau. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 31 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 31 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2011

    favorite book ever

    i love this book deeply i fell like i never want it to end, i want to find more books like it, i could have read it in a day, if i wasn't do anything, it just capitvates you, and makes you just want o keep reading, and find out whats going on in that crazy exciting family. im 13 and i just want to keep reading it, and i hate reading (:

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Quick and Fun Read

    Full of quirky and likeable characters. It pulls you into a summer setting, making it hard to stop flipping the pages. Offers a great depiction of a girl's teen years and coping with sisterly battles, parental embarassment, friendships and crushes. Well-written, but not very thought-provoking or intellectually stimulating.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2008

    Awesome!!!!

    I absolutly loved this book! It is the best book i've read all summer. This coming of age story made me laugh and cry. The way Jessica Anya Blav describes the characters and the stiuations makes you really feel like you know them and what their going through. I strongly recommend this book!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2008

    An Essential Read

    As someone that normally hates reading anything very long, I had no problem getting into this novel, nor finishing it. Jessica does a great job of portraying the freedoms of the 70's as well as its horrors. I enjoyed almost every single page of the novel, and recommend it as an essential read for anyone who like myself was born in the 70's and wants to hear the stories behind those faded photographs.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2008

    Fun, Funny & Funnier

    So, this book was a little bit... unusual... but I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a breath of new fresh and naked air. It's not for the highly offendable because of it's language and sexual content but if your an open minded person you have to pick this up. The characters were rich and delightful - the language was hilarious. I love this family!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2008

    A reviewer

    I grew up in the 70's in Southern California. Reading this book brought back my teen years in a way that I had forgotten or at least not considered in a long time. Blau writes with poignancy and insight as she navigates Jamie's sexual awakening and her dealings with her 'enlightened' parents who are still children themselves in so many ways. Blau has a way with dialogue. She captures an era that few have written about. This is a story that can be read in a couple of days by adults or teens. I bought this book for my two boys '16 & 18' so they could understand my generation and a little about the world of the 70's. There is an innocence to this story that reflects a period in history when urgency was dictated by bad waves, a poor tan and a fight with best girlfriends. A great read! Recommended Highly!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2013

    Excellent Novel!

    I can't get enough of this author! This was such a great coming of age novel. I have only one small complaint... the mother and father were almost identical to her other novel. The mom and dad are potheads, they like swimming naked, and they are totally unconcerned with actively raising their children. Honestly, if you read her other novel you couldn't tell the parents apart if you tried. Otherwise, it is well worth the time and I look foward to reading more books by this wonderfully hilarious author! If she works on writing new characters for the parents then her next novel will be 5 stars for sure!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 24, 2012

    Good Book

    I fall in love with the family in this book. It starts off a little slow at first but it picks up the farther you read. If you are looking for a award winning book this book is not for you. It is just a fun quick read about a CA coast family in the 70 of sex, drugs and rock n roll!! The title fix the book to a tee!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 28, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Not bad!

    This is a great summer read for a hot sunny day at the beach. The story line changed tastefully, and the character development was mature. I specifically enjoyed the analogies to Jamie's adult experiences. I caught myself smiling many times throughout this novel. On the critical side, the ending is somewhat abrupt.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 17, 2011

    So funnnny

    Great summer read! Very funny characters that will have you blushing and in fits of giggles. Oh to be 14 again. Highly recomend

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 31, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Summer of Naked Swim Parties: Easy & Fun Read

    This book was interesting, set in the 1960's in California a young girls parents are bonafide "hippies" she learns to live in their offbeat laid back world and accept them. Goes through the troubles of being a teenager from drinking, drugs, sex, and boyfriends. Good read.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Great beach or plane reading!

    Great, easy read. Interesting and unique characters.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2008

    BEST BOOK THIS YEAR!

    Love it! Laughed! Cried! A fun book for all generations.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2013

    Problem

    Really? Breasts ,butts you people are sick.

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  • Posted September 7, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    If you were born during this time, you may like it

    Nothing I would recommend

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2012

    I read it every summer!

    So amazing. Blau is an incredible author. Wish she would write more novels!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2011

    OK

    This book sounded like a very interesting read. However, I was not pleased to find the main character in the book losing her virginity at 14. At least she had taken precautions, until the next boy. I know the 70's were a crazy time depending on where you lived and how your parents went through the 70's, but I would have liked to have seen it with a different twist. The redeeming factor was the closeness that the family seemed to have obtained in the end.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 31 Customer Reviews

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