Title: TJ’s Last Summer in Cape Cod
Author: Garfield Whyte
Review: I liked the opening to TJ’s last summer in Cape Cod rather than having a prologue or introductory chapter we are provided with a short summary of the novel which was different and fresh but I was confused as the blurb does almost the same thing as the summary. For someone that doesn’t read a lot of contemporary novels I was very surprised at the reaction I had to this novel. The writing style of this novel was more descriptive than emotional but it was still very interesting to read. We learn very early on that the relationship between TJ and his uncle Peter is a very strange on. Peter is molding TJ to be the teenager he never was and endeavors to be in his adult life. As TJ remembers the past summers he has spent with his uncle including the summer of 2012 where his uncle engineered a plan where his girlfriend (despite being married) would take his nephew’s virginity. Peter and TJ have more of a friendship relationship rather than a family one. This book also includes a lot of time skipping between past and present, after gaining some background and insight on the characters we jump to the present and join TJ on his current adventures. While being a slightly strange to start this novel does have that warm summer-like feel to it. The book as a contemporary feel to it and I like it although at times there is a darker undertone sweeping through making me as the reader question whether the joyful, happy feel will last. I really enjoyed the various dynamic relationships in this novel, especially between TJ and his uncle, this relationship may have seemed innocent in the past but after an incident where TJ finds out his uncle is cheating on his aunt, Peter promises TJ a favour and TJ is calling it in but both have different thoughts on what this could mean. I really enjoyed the relationship between TJ and Maggie it is mature without being adult as of yet but I have a feeling Peter’s influence of TJ is stronger than he realises but I can’t wait to see what becomes of this couple over the course of the summer. I also realised that TJ lives most of the year in Cape Cod so if this is going to be his last summer is something going to happen like the family moving or going to university farther away, so it was intriguing to try and figure out the title reference.
TJ feels ashamed at covering for his uncle all the time about the affairs and now is aunt seems to have caught wind that something isn’t right and she has had suspicions for some time. TJ confronts his uncle about this and tells him his new girlfriend Linda can’t stay in the house in case his aunt comes around which she is planning to at some point. We begin to see some gradual development between TJ and Maggie which is great as in a lot of contemporary novel I see a lot of insta-love but this isn’t the case with TJ’s Last Summer in Cape Cod, I also enjoyed the pace of this novel which was quick but not too fast so you don’t feel like you are missing anything, but you do feel as if time is flying by as do the pages. Whyte’s writing style in this novel is divine and just keeps you turning the pages and I have a feeling I am going to want more when this book finishes. TJ seems to be too preoccupied with Maggie to worry about what his Uncle Peter is doing despite Peter’s trying to talk to TJ about it. Deep down I think TJ wants nothing more to come clean to his aunt and free himself of his uncles’ burden. After an incident at the beach with one of TJ’s flings Maggie is extremely confused and TJ just wants to right things before meeting her father, so far I feel sorry for TJ but I do think he deserved the beating off Susan for being an ass, he is a very conflicting character very similar to his uncle.
A part of TJ’s plan – whatever it may be – is completed when Maggie’s dad agrees to let her go to the hotel with TJ and Peter. While both teenagers are excited abut this I have a strange feeling that something is going to go wrong given TJ and Peter’s history. As TJ very slowly progresses his relationship with Maggie forward even telling her about his flings with previous girls and why he didn’t seek relationships with them I feel happy for them. Meanwhile Aunt Judy makes her way to Cape Cod following up on her suspicions about the telephone call earlier in the book. On the way to Cape Cod aunt Judy has an accident and ends up in hospital after this TJ unleashes all the anger he has harbored towards his uncle upon him which hurts his uncle but I didn’t see any remorse for his actions and certainly no desire to change them any time soon. In addition to the numerous affairs Peter is also now a father to a 3 month old child and to top it off he used TJ’s name on the birth certificate which he is furious about but in the middle of asking his uncle to leave Peter hints at something similar happening with his brother; TJ’s dad, and this intrigue forces TJ to keep Peter around despite having no desire to have anything to do with him right now. I empathize greatly with TJ right now, he was expecting the best summer of his life but in reality his aunt has ended up in hospital, he is the legal father of a child that isn’t his as well as some much other stuff he is trying to process and I am seriously wondering whether he will crack under all this pressure.
TJ very slowly begins to open up to Maggie about his past and his relationship with his uncle but Maggie feels like she needs someone to talk to and with conservative parents they really aren’t an option. I was also surprised about how casual she was about TJ sleeping with one of his flings while they are trying to build a relationship. So as we past the 1/4 mark in the novel, I felt really invested in all of the characters and the story line but I did feel the writing style didn’t quite fit the contemporary, romance feel of the novel. While TJ is coming clean about his past to Maggie, Uncle Peter is also gearing up to do the same to TJ to try and “explain” his behavior over the years as TJ finally put his foot down and draws the line about how much he is willing to cover up for Peter, I also felt at times that the relationship between TJ and Peter was abusive on the truth side of things while still being strangely close all the time.
TJ starts to bond closer to his father but he finds out that his father may be more like his uncle than he originally thought. We also see Peter’s perspective for a brief moment and he is torn between lying for his brother or telling the truth to his nephew. TJ is also taking the relationship very seriously with Maggie also refusing to sleep with her even though she wanted to because he did not have a condom, any other time he would have thrown caution to the wind but he wants things to be different with Maggie which is something I applaud. One thing I didn’t like about our protagonist TJ was the complete 180’s in his personality. An example of this would be a conversation between him and his uncle about whether his father cheated on his mom. This is a 180 because we have seen TJ to be very determined and to pry information out of people when he wants it but when he is on the cusp of getting the information he wanted about his dad he suddenly without warning stops his uncle from telling for no reason what so ever. While I was cheering TJ and Maggie’s relationship on I was constantly being frustrated at the fact he wants to devote his life to Maggie but at the same time he doesn’t put much effort into resisting the other women that come and go from his life. Not soon after this TJ is actually contemplating and planning a sexual affair behind Maggie’s back so it seems like he doesn’t really care for her at all despite his words of love and affection towards her. After this point I really started to dislike TJ as a character more and more, I was practically begging for him to change his mind and not see Kaci and go back to Maggie but knowing TJ this wasn’t going to happen and I was very disappointed.
While I was pleased that TJ didn’t sleep with Kaci, he violated his relationship with Maggie and openly admits he wants to see Kaci again in the future should the opportunity arise. I fear TJ will be just like his uncle with little or no respect for the women in his life and yet he showed so much promise to be a better man. As the chapters progress I feel TJ is straying further and further from the type of character I envisioned him to be, yes teenagers are playboys but this is extreme having a girlfriend yet talking to and meeting several other women is a betrayal of truth that simply cannot be overlooked. TJ then continues to take things one step further with Sye and he only likes her for her looks and naivety and he is going to try and make a move on her at a party where Maggie will be present. I hope he gets caught very soon as he completely deserves it and I will enjoy watching his house of lies crumble beneath him. I also detested the way he acted around Maggie while chasing these other girls including Sye it was like the author was going out of his way to make me hate the protagonist, but even so, I was hoping for TJ to be given a chance at redemption so I could like him again. So as we pass the 3/4 mark of the novel, TJ is beginning to learn from those around him that his present actions will come to haunt him in the future but he pays no attention to the lesson his uncle is trying to teach him and I can only see these situations ending badly for TJ, very badly indeed. TJ seems to be caught in a crossroads between Maggie and Sye and he doesn’t know which road to take even though he should be loyal to Maggie or at the very least honest with her.
As we enter the final part of the novel TJ does begin to struggle more with decisions like telling Sye he is dating Maggie, but he still sees no wrong in his actions and actively pursues Sye to let him take her virginity before he leaves for home and university. Towards the end of the novel I do begin to sympathize more with TJ as he really likes Maggie but he has fallen in love with Sye and even cries at thought of parting with her which is something we haven’t seen TJ do in the entire novel. I’m starting to think that TJ isn’t just a playboy, I’m starting to feel he is a boy on the cusp of manhood on a journey of self-discovery through love and other sexual experiences. The final parting between Sye and TJ as he heads for home was so heart-breaking I almost starting crying myself, and while it was an amazing scene I felt it was a little overshadowed by the previous awkward events. Once TJ returns to Cape Cod and Maggie he is still lost and more uncomfortable with his life than ever. He still harbors feelings for Sye and wants to be with her, yet he claims to love Maggie and will him leaving for school very soon he wants to put everything to rest and get on with the rest of his life not being weighed down by feelings of guilt. A lot of the relationship become tense towards the end of the novel like the one between TJ and his mother in particular but it doesn’t distract from the story-line.
The ending of this novel was great, TJ’s actions finally caught up with him in a few explosive scenes between him and his mother and as he finally made his decision to attend UCLA against his mothers’ wishes to carry on his adventures away from the prying eyes of his family. The final days before TJ leaves are quite profound and heartwarming, TJ realizes he will be leaving so many people including Maggie and Sye behind in search of something new and exciting. Aboard the plane TJ reminisces about this last summer and finds he would do nothing despite all the ups and downs and he comes to terms with the fact that the two loves in his life he may never see again but they will always be present in his heart and this sort of redeems the book but I still have some issues with it but overall it was a very enjoyable read with a warm contemporary feel to it and I would recommend it to all contemporary and romance lovers.
This Book was sent to me for review consideration by the author
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