Review: Vanishing Summer by Lora Richardson

Lora Richardson
Publication date: March 25, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Format: eARC (276 pgs)
Source: Author



He disappeared four years ago, and I’m to blame. Now he’s back.

I call it the vanishing summer. Everett, my best friend and the first boy I ever kissed, was kidnapped; taken from right beside me. Three months later my mom died. They were both just gone. The bright, fearless spark inside me was gone, too—blown clean out.

I learned that the worst could happen at any moment and with no warning. I didn’t want to go outside anymore. I avoided the woods where Everett and I had played. I hated to let my brother and my dad out of my sight. For four years, I lived with a pounding heart and shaking hands.

But I’m sixteen now, and ready to find my way back to myself, to somehow move forward. Therapy is helping. I let one new friend into my life, and she’s helping, too. I’m trying this new thing where I act like the old me—unafraid and confident and bold. I’m doing scary things and trying not to let them scare me.

Then one night as I’m sitting outside in the dark, Everett walks through the trees and back into my life.
M Y   T H O U G H T S

Fact: I read less YA now than ever.

Another fact: There are a few YA authors who I will continue to read no matter what. That short list includes long-time favorites like Katie McGarry, Julie Cross and Robin Benway – and it also includes Lora Richardson.

Richardson writes contemporary young adult novels that speak to me. There are no fantastical worlds, no over the top drama, no too good to be true characters. What Richardson does best is create down to earth, realistic characters that feel like people you could know in your everyday life - the girl at school, the guy down the street. And she tells their stories with a gentle hand that draws you in and makes you care and feel and hope.

In Vanishing Summer, we meet sixteen-year-old Greta. A girl who is fearful and doesn’t take unnecessary chances. But Greta wasn’t always that way; she used to be bold and daring. That ended the day her best friend was taken away right in front of her – and never came back. Until he did. Until one night he walked out of the trees, stood in front of her, and said her name.

I was me, and he was him, but we weren’t us anymore.

I cared so much for Greta and Everett. I wanted to hug Everett all the time for what he had been through, what he had lost, and his struggle to return to a life he no longer knew. While Everett suffered while he was away, Greta was tormented as well, dealing with guilt that she was somehow responsible. She showed real maturity when she knew she had to give Everett time and space. She wanted to immediately be right back by his side every moment and pick up where they left off and yet she was still intuitive enough to know to give him time. She didn’t push him to share but was there when he wanted to talk. They had such a special connection and were so supportive of one another.

“Do you think I’m going to be okay?” he asked?
“I do.”
“Good. I trust you. If you think so, it must be true.”

The secondary characters were just as appealing. There was a strong family dynamic and it was refreshing to see a family that obviously loved and cared and supported. Greta’s father and brother showed their concern for her, both before Everett returned and after, and I loved their close-knit unit. Everett’s mom, Greta’s friend Meredith, Greta’s boss at the little theater where she worked… they all provided a cocoon of love and encouragement.

Vanishing Summer provided everything I loved in contemporary YA. Characters that I connected with and that felt believable, a story that captured my heart and my emotions, and the hint of a romance that had all the sweetness and yearning of first love. If you’re a fan of contemporary YA, do yourself a favor and experience Greta and Everett’s story for yourself. You won’t be sorry.


Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. This does not impact my opinion of the book or the content of this review. I received no compensation and my review is voluntary.


  1. This sounds like a lovely and emotional read and that it has everything I love in a contemporary. I hadn't heard of the author prior to reading your interview yesterday but now I know I really need to check out her books. Great review, Tanya!

    1. It truly is a wonderful story, Suzanne. I highly recommend this one - and her Juniper trilogy. I've loved all of them. :)

  2. It is so good to have authors that never let you down. I have not found such authors in YA so far.

    1. So true, Julie. I hope you find a couple that you can count on!

  3. gah yes for YA with great family dynamics and not absentee parents. I don't think I've read anything by her before.

    1. Lora's Juniper series is just wonderful... and this one is so, so good. Her stories are very family-centric... never the absentee-parent syndrome. :)

  4. This sounds heart wrenching, but also like a wonderful story. I don't read much YA anymore either. I'll keep this one in mind.

    1. If/when you're in the mood for YA, you can't go wrong with this one. :)

  5. This sounds good. Reminds me of the premise for Emmy & Oliver (which I loved)

    1. Ah, I hadn't put that together, but yes there is a similarity there. (I adored that one, too!) Since it didn't occur to me until you mentioned it should tell you that it's very much its own story. :)

  6. I don't really read any YA books anymore either... I did love Girls With Sharp Sticks though!