Minda’s drunk review of Long Past Summer by Noué Kirwan
**We received an early copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. We’d like to thank Noué and HQN for the opportunity. This book comes out on August 2nd**
What I drank prior: Visiting my family in Ohio, so I’m a couple glasses of wine in. Fairly sober all things considered, but just finished this book and needed to vent.
It’s hard to move on from a broken heart–and harder to move on from a broken friendship.
Mikaela Marchand is living the polished life she always planned for: a successful New York lawyer, with a promotion in her sights and a devoted boyfriend by her side. She’s come a long way from the meek teen she was growing up in small town Georgia, but the memory of her adolescence isn’t far—in fact, it’s splashed across a massive billboard in Times Square. An old photograph of Mikaela and her former best friend, Julie, has landed on the cover of a high-profile fashion magazine advertised all over the city. And when Julie files a lawsuit, Mikaela is caught in the middle as defense lawyer for the magazine.
Not only will she have to face Julie for the first time in years, Mikaela’s forced to work closely with the photographer in question: the former love of her life–and Julie’s ex-husband–Cameron Murphy. Mikaela needs to win the case to get her promotion–and as a junior partner, she has no margin for error. But unresolved feelings still exist between Cam and Mikaela, and jealousy always made Julie play dirty…
With flashbacks to summers of first loves and fragile friendships, Long Past Summer looks at the delicate and powerful thread that binds and breaks friends and flames.
My Summary: Lawyer Mikaela’s life is going great: she is successful at her law firm, has the perfect doctor boyfriend, and is happy enough. Unfortunately for her, her most recent client is her many summers past ex-boyfriend who she never quite got over who is being sued by his ex-wife who is also Mikaela’s ex-best friend. As she faces the past she left behind, many (literally so many) secrets are uncovered as she grapples with the life she has and the one she could have had. All while trying to make partner as one of the only Black women at her firm.
Spoiler-free Thoughts: I hate to say it because the premise was SO good, but this didn’t land for me. The main characters, all three of them, seemed to have so much trauma they hadn’t dealt with and the relationship(s) seemed toxic. They were very much unreliable narrators of their own lives, admittedly through Mikaela’s narration, so much so that I still don’t really know what happened in the past. There were a number of good ideas here, but none I felt were satisfyingly addressed. I really wanted to like it. I think the sex scenes were good, but I was actively rooting against them so I couldn’t enjoy it, which just made it worse.
Characters: Let’s start with our main character, Mikaela. This girl has a crippling amount of self-doubt, despite the fact that everyone around her tells her how awesome she is. I get it to a certain extent, but also no. Then there’s her love interest, Cam (not Cameron y’all). He literally asks everyone to call him Cam, but even the author writes Cameron every time. Like, why? And I hate that he consistently takes photos of people without their permission. Not cool, man. Julie is just… all over the place? Due to in part what the book is supposed to be, her character is mostly what others tell you of her rather than what she is. And TBH I’m not sure I believe what they say about her, though she’s not an angel or anything based on the actual interactions. Side note, like his character, Rashad the bf is literally non-existent. It doesn’t make any sense that him and Mikaela are together.
Plot: There was a lot that happened here. Both in the past and in the present. In the present, Mikaela is killing it in her career and is rising up the ranks at her law firm. When she (re)meets Cam though, all of that seems to go out the window. She makes a number of bad judgement calls and when she gets called out for it, all the blame is directed elsewhere. She also makes a lot of weird judgement calls, and then gets surprised when she runs into certain people in situations where she would100% run into certain people. In the past, we meet Mikaela when she’s at her peak friendship with Julie and is excited to embark on her freshman year at Columbia U. Until she meets Cam, at least. Cam turns her world upside down, including her friendship with Julie. But, a child of divorce, she knows not all relationships last and isn’t going to let it stand in the way of her future. That’s a summary, but seriously, a lot happens. I don’t want to spoiler anything. Anyway, nothing in the plot made me root for them. It all seemed like bad timing and poor decision-making on all accounts. Much is made of a number of TW-worthy issues (pregnancy loss, marriage entrapment, racism, sexism, just to name a few), but because there are so many, none are addressed really well, or even at all.
World Building: Not much of say for the world building. I guess we got a good understanding of what Harmon is, admittedly with some shorthand. Less so NYC imo, even though much of the book is based there.
Writing Style: All Mikaela’s POV, but sent in past and present. Not our most reliable source, to say the least. I would have appreciated Cam’s perspective at a minimum, but honestly Julie’s too if it wasn’t meant to be a romance novel.
Drink Pairing: Peach schnapps. Oof.
Rating: 2/5 shots