Book Review: Summer Circuit

Summer Circuit by Kim Ablon Whitney 

summer circuit

Synopsis

“WARNING: CONTAINS MATURE CONTENT. RECOMMENDED FOR AGE 16+

It’s the summer before college. Hannah Waer is on her own at the seven-week summer horse show circuit in Vermont. Her father wants her to learn independence and responsibility so she has to take care of her own horse—which might not be a problem if she’d ever picked out a stall, or prepared a horse for the ring. It also doesn’t help that her horse won’t jump.

When Hannah crashes (literally) into gorgeous and accomplished grand prix rider, Chris Kern, on her first day at the show, she’s certain her life is over. In fact, it’s just beginning.

The summer becomes one Hannah will never forget—a time of first love, of hard choices, and of learning that life is what you make of it.” – Book Description from Amazon.com

Review

The synopsis of this book really doesn’t fill you with excitement so I wasn’t expecting much from this but I purchased it anyway because I love reading about the hunter jumper scene and I had a dollar credit for any electronic purchase at Amazon. Well the description doesn’t do it justice. While Summer Circuit is not the next Great American Novel, it’s certainly a lot more fun and well written than you’re lead to believe. In essence, this story by Kim Ablon Whitney is a carefree chick lit and coming-of-age story about a girl on the show circuit.

The main character in this story is a girl named Hannah and her horse, Logan. Hannah struggles with riding her horse (they do not mesh well) and gets no help from her coach. As you start the story, sometimes you wonder why she’s even still riding. It doesn’t seem like she hates it, but it doesn’t seem like she’s having fun either. Of course, that’s part of the plot and after befriending  several other juniors and a few pros, Hannah starts to appreciate the summer she’s spending on circuit.

Several of the characters start off as being simply caricatures (like the gay best friend and the unhelpful-always-yelling-at-you trainer) but I don’t think that detracted from the story too much. Most of them end of developing with the story and end up playing important parts in the growth of the main character. You can tell, not just from her characters but from her descriptions of what goes on at the circuit (both in the ring and outside of it), that Whitney really knows her stuff. She effortlessly brings the hunter jumper scene to life and lets you live in Hannah’s world.

Whitney explores a lot of different young adult subjects in this story, such as sexuality, virginity, and cyber bullying, with a lot of sensitivity and varying degrees of success. I particularly appreciated Hannah’s inner thoughts and monologue about her virginity and how that affected her choices. Her struggles and thoughts were real and I could relate to them. I’m sure other young girls will too. Unfortunately, I felt like Whitney ended up glossing over a lot of the aftermath of the cyber bullying and I do wish that had been explored further.

Final Thoughts

For any of my younger (or more squeamish) readers out there, I do want to draw attention to the warning in the synopsis: this book contains mature content. While it’s certainly no 50 Shades of Grey, Whitney does explore the sexual awakening of the narrator quite intensely and very in depth. For anyone who wants to read it without reading those parts, it’s pretty easy to see when they’re going to happen and to skip to the end of the chapter.

Summer Circuit  is probably not a book I’ll pick up and read again but I enjoyed the time I spent reading it. It’s a rather quick read and, even though it deals with some rather adult subjects, it manages to stay light hearted. For the price, $3.99, it is definitely worth trying this author out.

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