It’s not often that I read two books by the same author in the same year (JK Rowling withstanding). And, it’s rarer than a blue moon that I read two books by the same author within 30 days. Yet, I recently devoured Peaches (in one day) by Jodi Lynn Anderson less than 30 days of reading The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson (in one day).
Released: June 2005
Publisher: HarperCollins Publisher
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In a Ya-Ya Sisterhood for teens, Peaches combines three unforgettable heroines who have nothing in common but the troubles that have gotten them sentenced to a summer of peach picking at a Georgia orchard.
Leeda is a debutante dating wrong-side-of-the-tracks Rex.
Murphy, the wildest girl in Bridgewater, likes whichever side Rex is on.
Birdie is a dreamer whose passion for Girl Scout cookies is matched only by her love for a boy named Enrico.
When their worlds collide, The Breakfast Club meets The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants in an entirely original and provocative story with a lush, captivating setting.
Anderson writes about the most spectacularly flawed characters.
Sometimes they’re downright unlikeable. Like Murphy and Leeda and Birdie, who are selfish and insecure and condescending and full of pride and sometimes just downright fools. I really wanted to hate them, but I couldn’t because beneath the walls they built, they just wanted to be loved and accepted. They want to be optimistic about their future even though Murphy is certain she’s doomed to endure failed relationship after failed relationship just like her mother. And Leeda is certain her existence is a regretful mistake and that her mother actually has a favorite child (spoiler: it’s not Leeda). And Birdie…well, her mother just ran out on her and her father, and the peach farm she calls home is failing, and she’s about to lose that too.
I felt like I was on a peach farm in south Georgia.
Just like in the Vanishing Season, Anderson made her setting come alive, and she made it seem effortless. I could smell the stinky-sweet scent of overripe peaches, and I could feel their sticky juice on my skin as it dried. I could feel the cool refreshing waters of the lake the girls would steal away to after curfew, and I could feel Georgia’s blazing, afternoon sun and suffocating humidity.
The story seemed slow, however.
Which I understand might seem weird because I praised the Vanishing Season for being an intentionally slow novel. In the Vanishing Season, it seemed to add to the atmosphere Anderson was creating. But, it seemed out-of-place in Peaches. I just wanted Murphy and Leeda and Birdie to get over themselves already so that I could read a book about friendship.
A Contemporary YA novel would be incomplete without a little romance.
But, I wasn’t a fan of the romantic relationships that developed in Peaches. Okay, Birdie and Enrico were awkwardly charming together, but Rex and Leeda… and Rex and Murphy? Actually, it was just Rex in general. He didn’t have much of a personality. Really, I just wanted Leeda and Murphy to realize they were better as independent women and lose interest in “wrong-side-of-the-tracks”-Rex (who was really just sort of benign).
Overall, I enjoyed Peaches. I didn’t love it like the Vanishing Season though. Peaches is actually part of a series, which I didn’t realize when I checked the book out. I don’t know if I feel compelled to read on. At least, not this year. Perhaps I’ll revisit the idea of reading Peaches #2 next summer. Still… I did find it to be a satisfying summertime read about friendship and self-discovery. It made me want to read Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants or watch the movie Now and Then.
What is one of your favorite summertime novels about friendship?