05 May

Inspiration Found Close to Home

My cousin planned her father’s memorial service. She chose the music, as well as wrote and then read the obituary at the memorial service. She was sixteen at the time.

I’ve known some amazing teenagers. This girl is one of them, and she became the inspiration for the female protagonist of Summer by Summer, the story of two teens trapped on an island after a dive trip gone wrong. I wanted the reader to see into a life that seemed perfect but actually hid a lot of internal struggles. What better place to explore this contrast than on a deserted island? In a place where many people would be tempted to shove their inner pain and sorrows aside and focus on the external problem of being stranded, Summer is forced to tackle her inner demons while searching for food, water, and shelter alongside Bray—a boy who reminds her of everything she lost.

While most teen girls wouldn’t mind being stuck on an island with an attractive guy, a deserted island in the Caribbean can be punishing and unforgiving. And beyond the daily struggles to survive, Summer and Bray must contend with mysterious and deadly visitors to the island, as well as the painful pasts that continue to drive them apart. As Summer and Bray spend more time together in this desolate paradise, these constant battles will ultimately force both to not only face their inner turmoil but to conquer it.

Summer and Bray have no choice but to rise above. They find a bond and a strength within each other and power within themselves, and by the end Bray is willing to lay down his life to protect the girl he’s come to love. Summer by Summer is a vacation, a nightmare, and a timeless romance all wrapped in a tropical blanket. While writing it, I came to love Summer’s tenacity and Bray’s quiet strength. I hope the story speaks to others as well and is a reminder that some of the most amazing people we meet may be the very teens we come in contact with on a daily basis.

—Heather Burch

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