The Life Leasons I Learnt From Amy Mason Doan’s The Summer List

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Amy Mason Doan’s The Summer List is an awesome book about two women who become friends during the summer before their first year of high school in 1995. Their names where Laura and Casey, and they became best friends who relied on one another for important advice. An unfortunate situation occurred that included betrayal which made these girls become nothing more than strangers. They both grow up not talking to one another but never forgetting each other when one day they both receive letters from one another. Laura’s letter was supposedly written by Casey which stated that she was Laura to come visit her. Once Laura finally has the courage to go to Casey’s house, they both figure out the letters where written by Casey’s mother. Her mother also gave them a scavenger hunt, in hopes of the girls becoming friends again. At first, they were hesitant to even do the scavenger hunt but eventually do it anyway.

The main character of this novel is Laura. She is described as a dark haired and dark eyed girl who loves kayaking in the lake behind her house. Casey makes an observation in this novel that Laura looks a little bit like Pocahontas and Laura gains the nickname of Pocahontas.

Caroline: What was your first impression of Casey? Laura: When I first met Casey, I thought she was very clingy. We met on the dock in front of her house when I was bringing her a cake as a house warming gift. She immediately started talking to me even though I had no idea she was there. Although it was a little awkward at first, her personality was contagious, so I stayed, and we talked for a while. She was super nice and offered me a piece of the cake. When I first kayaked to the dock, she reminded me of Ariel from The Little Mermaid because of her red hair and pale skin. She even had a little statue of Ariel on the dock that I could tell she put that there.

Caroline: What did you carry in your shorts and why? Laura: When I was younger, I carried a music box given to me by my adopted dad but from my biological mother. My adopted mother, however, never wanted me to have it because my biological mother had bad habits and OD’d. It has a lot of meaning to me which is why I always kept it in my shorts in a Ziploc baggy. I lost it at the skating rink when I was with Casey and I really freaked out and didn’t think I would be able to find it. When Jamie found it and gave it to me a huge relief settled in me. I didn’t think I could live without that music box. I felt like it was a part of me because my birth mother got it specifically for me.

Caroline: How did you first meet J.B.? Laura: I first met J.B. at the skating rink when I was with Casey. He was the one who exchanged people’s shoes for skates. When I first saw him, a bunch of girls were talking and flirting with him which made me a little jealous. I walked up to where he was, and he handed me my skates but, didn’t let go. I was very confused because there was no reason he shouldn’t give me my skates. Then when he finally did, I could tell he was just playing with me because he gave me a huge smile. After that, we just kind of became friends. Caroline: What did you first think about Casey’s mother, Alex? Laura: Well where do I begin with Alex? Alex is one of those moms that cares deeply for their child but is sometimes very immature. Alex split from Casey’s father because they were both very young and he didn’t want a child. Although she didn’t spend a lot of time at her own, when she would drop off Casey somewhere, she would beg to come with her. I completely understand that she is lonely, and Casey is her best friend. When I first met Alex, she was in to art and creating stuff, so I found it intriguing. She would make portraits of me which would get me very excited to go over to their house.

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Caroline: How did Casey fit in to a new school, in your point of view? Laura: On the first day of school, I felt that I prepared Casey enough on the types of people who attend our high school. Although I wasn’t new to the town, I was still new to high school, so, I didn’t know everything. From what I remember, I felt like Casey wasn’t going to like our school because she was new, but it turns out Casey handled it better than I did. She became a class clown and the person who made things less awkward. Also, on the first day of school and throughout high school she would stand up for me when I couldn’t which is why she was my best friend. Caroline: Why do you think Alex mailed both you and Casey fake letters and gave you the scavenger hunt? Laura: I think Alex mailed those fake letters to finally bring us together after almost 20 years of totally ignoring each other. We never ever wanted this to happen and Alex knew that.

To me, she maybe felt obligated to do this because Casey and I swore we would never not talk to each other. The first step of a new friendship was through the letter to get us together in one building. The next step was to make us talk and do something together. The scavenger hunt made us work together and visit memory lane. It also helped us remember why we loved each other so much.

Caroline: Why did you enjoy kayaking so much? Laura: When I was a little girl, my father gave me my very first kayak for my birthday. It was a golden yellow color and I loved it with all my heart. We had a lake behind our house which was the perfect place for kayaking. Whenever I was feeling stressed or bored I went on the water in my kayak which really relaxed me. I felt a connection with both my kayak and the water. Also, that is how I first met Casey. Casey and I would be kayaking down our lake and having deep conversations about the world. It would also help us talk about our problems and we would work them out. I think being on that lake in my kayak with Casey will always have a special place in my heart. Caroline: How was Casey’s mother and your mother different? Laura: Alex and my mom are completely different people. My mom was one of those moms who made sure I was in line while handling work and raising money for school events. She is also an absolute clean freak. I don’t think I’ve seen a single grain of dirt anywhere in our house. She also had her life and my own planned way ahead. Casey’s mom, Alex, was very free flowing. She didn’t really worry about anything besides her child’s safety and finding a boyfriend. She has Casey very young, as I’ve said before, so Casey’s father was never really in the picture. Her actions would sometime annoy Casey because she would always have a man over. Caroline: What did the skating rink look like and what did it mean to you? Laura: Our skating rink was very fun for me and Casey to go to. When you first go in, you must have a glow stick bracelet to show that you paid to get in. As you walked in, you would be blinded by the carpet because of its neon green and yellow accents. There was a snack bar near the back and the snacks got better overtime. Just beside the bar were a bunch of chairs that would twist all the way around. I will always remember the blue floors where people could skate gracefully or embarrassingly fall. That skating rink was so important to me because it was one of the only fun things to do in our town. It is also where I met Jamie and he is very important to me. Caroline: How did Casey change you for the better? Laura: Casey was nice to me from the start. She never took a moment for granted when it came to spending time with me. I think she made me be more open towards people and not shut people out of my life. After meeting her, it felt easier to talk to people about my feelings and thoughts. Especially when it came to Jamie. Casey showed me that talking about those things wasn’t abnormal and that its easier than people would think it to be. She also gave me extremely useful advice about boys, school, and stress. I still use her advice to this day and I’m so grateful she was my best friend.

There were many life lessons and connections I made throughout the book. I can make a connection with the main character because her friendship with Casey is very similar to a friendship I had. I used to be friends with a girl who was in the same pre-k class I was. We were best friends until middle school and then we sadly grew a part. We did pretty much everything together including beach trips, sleepovers, and going to dance class. I could always count on her with everything and she gave great advice. We haven’t talked since elementary school, but I feel like our friendship could blossom again in the future, just like Laura and Casey.

A life lesson that I observed throughout this novel was to always remember where you came from. Casey and Laura visited people and places that they enjoyed as teenagers when they were doing the scavenger hunt. As they talked to old friends, they remembered how good company they were and would have flash backs to when they were best friends. This made them realize how one mistake led them to not talking for 20 years. This lesson also ties in with staying loyal to your friends. Casey made a mistake that could be prevented if she stayed loyal to Laura.

Overall, this book had a very meaningful plot and interesting characters. I feel like everyone could relate to each character in at least one way. With many life lessons and connections, I enjoyed this novel.

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