I'm so so sorry I don't have a picture for this one guys, but stick with me! If you’ve read any of my past reviews, you’ll know that I love books that can teach me things about a culture I’m not familiar with or a political system that I’ve never really learnt much about. I love discovering what it’s like to live in different places across the world: what I would prefer about living there, and why perhaps I wouldn’t want to move there. Just a Monumental Summer is possibly the first book I’ve ever read that is entirely set in Romania, and as such provided me with a unique insight into the workings of the country. I sped through this book as I just couldn’t wait to see what would happen next, or learn more about this beautiful, but politically corrupt country. If you want to learn a little something new about Romania, then I would definitely give this a go!
Mona needs to get away from her old life. Although her family loves her, she knows she can’t go back and face them after failing the University entrance exams that could have revolutionized all of their lives. So, she takes a train to Costinesti, a seaside town, and intends to spend the summer adventuring upon a path of self-discovery.
Mona expects to learn new things about herself during that summer, but what she doesn’t anticipate is meeting a hot young band member on the train to the coast, and having wonderful sex right there on the train. Sex has never been something big for Mona, just something she does to get by, to manipulate men into doing what she wants. But what if this time it’s something more than that? When Mona and band member Alin reach Costinesti they remain paired together, and she gets to meet all of his friends and discover what it’s like to be part of the entourage of a rock band.
Part of Mona really wants to spend her summer falling deeper and deeper in love with Alin, but what if the demons from her past take over? She’s never been good at being tied down, but can Alin’s love for her persuade her heart to take root?
On the whole I loved how the plot moved along, as Schneider managed to effortlessly combine a tale of love with a tale of shifting politics. However, there were moments when things fell down a little. I would have loved to see all of the plot strands come together in a glorious braid at the end of the novel, but instead some were left frayed, and it begged the question as to what they were doing in the novel in the first place.
Possibly my favourite aspect of the plot was the fact that Schneider had a whole variety of different relationships from people of different backgrounds and classes in communist Romania present in the book. I greatly enjoyed discovering how politics and gendered expectations impacted these relationships, and why they ultimately failed.
All in all, this was a good read that, with a little bit of work from the author, could become a great read. Politics, friendship and love all come under scrutiny through Mona’s experience of her monumental summer.
You can buy Just a Monumental Summer here
What do you think - would you give it a go? It comes out today!