It is no secret that representation of the LGBTQ+ Community is hard to find in mainstream media—no doubt, it is easier today than a few years ago—but it’s still not enough. I came across the name of the book The Summer of Jordi Perez in a google search for ‘LGBTQ+ love stories’—something a lot of us may be guilty of—and was immediately intrigued by both, the title, and the book cover, or more specifically the rainbow text on it.
The thing that I liked the most about the book from the very beginning was how naturally it flows and how real the characters are. It is often hard for me to read Y/A novels because they seem forced, or like they’re trying too hard to be relatable to teenagers—but I never felt that with The Summer of Jordi Perez. Once I started, I couldn’t stop reading—I have a set a goal of reading at the least 50 pages per day, but I ended up finishing the entire book in a day.
The main character, Abby, is seventeen, gay and a plus sized fashion blogger. Something else that I loved about the book is that while Abby is fat, it is not the only focus of the book. She is happy and confident in her body, and there are, of course, the usual insecurities that one has, as a teenage girl—but being fat is not her entire personality, and the only thing anyone thinks about. Her identity as a lesbian is also not her entire personality, or something that is dwelled upon a lot. It just is.
The book starts with Abby landing a summer internship at a vintage clothing store called Lemonberry, a store that she loves—and while usually these internships are handed out to a single person, Abby ends up sharing it with Jordi Perez, a girl from her school that she had never noticed before. It takes no time for Abby to realize that she has a crush on Jordi, and from there on, things begin to happen.
The characters in this book are so full of life that you can imagine the lives of each one of them beyond the book. From Abby’s new friend, Jax (extremely likeable) to her mother, Norah (owner of the brand Eating Healthy with Norah!, less likeable), it’s easy to see things subjectively from the point of view of every character and see why they do what they do. Like any good work, the book starts when things are beginning to change for Abby: her sister Rachel is not coming home for summer, her best friend Maliah has a new boyfriend, she has landed a new internship and made a new friend called Jax. With everything in Abby’s life being a little wobbly, it often feels like things are going to blow up—but then, they don’t. Instead, they are handled easily with communication and without any drama—which only made me realize how accustomed we are to unnecessary drama due to what the media usually shows us.
In conclusion, The Summer of Jordi Perez is a happy, fluffy book that addresses important issues without making a huge deal out of them, and gives us the representation we all need. The characters go through major character development, and the only foreshadowing is that of a happy ending. It is not just a book for the LGBTQ+ Community, but a book that deserves to be read by every young adult.