20 Apr 2023

We Can(ada) Read: THE SUMMER OF BITTER AND SWEET by Jen Ferguson

We Can(ada) Read is by Canadians for EVERYONE to learn more about some amazing Canadian authors!


Author: Jen Ferguson
Series: N/A
Source: ARC from Publisher
Publisher: HarperCollins US
Publication Date: August 3, 2022

Overall Rating:
Diversity Rating:
Representation: Asexual, Bipolar, Cis Girl, Demisexual, Native/Indigenous

In this complex and emotionally resonant novel, debut author Jen Ferguson serves up a powerful story about rage, secrets, and all the spectrums that make up a person—and the sweetness that can still live alongside the bitterest truth.

Lou has enough confusion in front of her this summer. She’ll be working in her family’s ice cream shack with her newly ex-boyfriend—whose kisses never made her feel desire, only discomfort—and her former best friend, King, who is back in their Canadian prairie town after disappearing three years ago without a word.

But when she gets a letter from her biological father—a man she hoped would stay behind bars for the rest of his life—Lou immediately knows that she cannot meet him, no matter how much he insists.

While King’s friendship makes Lou feel safer and warmer than she would have thought possible, when her family’s business comes under threat, she soon realizes that she can’t ignore her father forever.
Amazon | Chapters | TBD
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book and chose to review it. This in no way impacts my opinion.

Content Warningdirectly from the author: There are discussions about and references to a violent sexual assault; instances of intimate partner abuse; instances of racism and physical assault toward Indigenous and Black teens; discussions of drug use; under-aged alcohol use. Additional from my reading: acephobia, blood, bullying, gaslighting, medical content, mental illness, abortion, emotional abuse, and sexual violence..

I always try to read Canadian (hence, We Can(ada) Read) but this was a great look at the other side of Canadian culture that isn't always talked about. I appreciated the prairie setting and getting to explore that during the course of this book.

However, as someone bipolar and bisexual, I wasn't a huge fan of the representation of Florence being the bisexual slut during her manic period. I know that is the case for some people and that it is something to watch for, but it just felt like it was overdone and could cause more stigma and stereotypes than there already are.

On the positive side though, which seems really weird to say, I think a lot of people look at Canada and think that we're just so nice here, but there is a lot of racism, prejudice, and systemic barriers, especially for Indigenous people. I think this was a good exploration of what it means to be Indigenous in Canada, how that affects your mental health, and why people keep secrets.

Some of the writing didn't always mesh with me, especially with the amount of insinuating about the previous fallout. I thought there was a lot of lying in this that didn't quite make sense and I would have liked there to be a bit more nuance to the storytelling around the 2SMMIWG secondary plot.

I do recommend this but I think it could have used a bit more refining.

Are you going to pick this up?

1 comment:

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