Amelia Joy’sdebut novella, All Summer Long, is a raw, searing story of intoxicating first love, set in Adelaide in 2012. Olivia is 19, going to university, and hiding inside a cocoon of solitude and disaffection. Then, one scorching summer day at the beginning of term, she meets Miles, a social butterfly who seems fascinated with her, and she is hooked. But he has a girlfriend. And she has a boyfriend; Olivia and Miles aren’t touching, only spending all their time together, talking, dreaming, laughing. That’s alright, right?

Over the rest of the year, and for several years after that, Olivia and Miles dip in and out of each other’s lives, exchanging feverish text messages, stopping and starting, trying to move on but always halted somehow by the other. Moving between polar opposites of place, temperature, and plans for the future, Olivia wants to be with Miles in the heat-churned city, living in the day, the moment, overwhelming each other in body and spirit. Then, when he recoils and returns to his first love, she escapes to the Adelaide Hills, to the cold and her ex’s white-picket-suburban-family familiarity. But she feels numb; that place, that version of her future, holds nothing for her. And on her return to the city and Miles, he talks about the engagement ring he’s buying for his girlfriend, the wife and family and future he wants. And somehow Olivia isn’t right for that.

Joy manages to capture the heady rush, the all-consuming pain and euphoria of first love. This book is an excellent example of the power and importance of the novella. This story could only hold so much impact, so much emotion and force, in a short number of pages. Any longer and the effect would be diluted; any shorter and it would be pure poetry and less accessible to lovers of prose. But this length, with this potency and depth of writing, creates a story that punches you in the gut with every emotion you stumbled through in your late teens and early twenties, then leaves you forlorn and breathless, wondering what just happened.

I was provided a free copy of this book by the publisher in return for an honest review.

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