Is honesty always the best policy?
At sixteen, Izzy longs to be like her older sister Ellie. Ellie seems to have everything Izzy would like - a devoted boyfriend, highlights in her hair, a glamorous life style, loads of sophisticated friends, and at twenty- two she is treated like an adult by their parents. However, for her birthday, Izzy receives the gift of a lifetime. Ellie is going on holiday to Ibiza with her friends and she offers to take Izzy with her! At last Izzy has a chance to hang out with an older crowd and do all the things she’s dreamed of…
Izzy uses this as a chance to pretend that she is much older, and she manages to catch the eye of Rex, one of the DJs on the island. But can she keep up the pretence of being the same age as her sister? Falling in love with an older man might be ‘cool’, but it has its hardships. And then a tragedy reveals everything to Izzy…
I picked this book up with a whole load of preconceptions. I imagined that Ibiza Summer would be fairly predictable, fluffy and easy to second guess. Happily I was wrong and this book has a little more to offer than the average teen romance.
First off the main character is beautifully written and adorable. She's not perfect, unlike her sister, and suffers from self-esteem issues. We learn quite early on that she hates her curly hair, is insecure and quiet whereas her sister is gorgeous, outgoing and popular. Izzy's recently been dumped (by text - yuck) and is hoping that a holiday in Ibiza will lift her spirits. But there's more to Izzy than this. Her father died when she was eleven and she feels that there's no-one she can speak to about her grief. She has issues with commitment and suffers from anxiety about people that she loves as a result.
Izzy's sister Ellie is six years older and although Izzy idolises her the age difference has driven them apart. Obviously Ibiza Summer is a love story but it's also an emotional journey for Izzy. The reader watches her as she finally expresses her feelings about the death of her dad first to Rex and later to Ellie. The relationship with her sister is perfectly done showing how a gap of six years at sixteen feels more like twenty. Izzy struggles to connect with her and as the story progresses they start to address the issues between them. I also loved her insecurities about best friend Willow who upsets Izzy by finding a new friend in her absence.
The Ibiza background is perfect too. It has just the right amount of hedonism, glamour and beautiful sunsets to transport the reader. Izzy's trip becomes a whirlwind of club nights, parties, days on the beach and boat parties. Rex introduces Izzy to a glamorous world. His appeal as the romantic lead lies in his hot looks, moped and DJ job but he's also incredibly sensitive and sincere - the perfect combination! Through Rex, Anna-Louise Weatherley succeeds in making the most unlikely love story realistic and believable.
There were some elements of the story that I wasn't completely sold on. The character of Jo-Jo is brilliantly bitchy but she disappeared too quickly for me. Also, Izzy's nearly seventeen and Rex is twenty-six but in a three week period there isn't one mention of sex. I found it a little difficult to believe that Rex, thinking Izzy is twenty-two, wouldn't have mentioned it (but hey, that's my adult eye being cynical so ignore me). Also, as I've mentioned, Izzy's journey is beautifully done but I ended the book a little worried about Rex. He mapped out his future for us in the closing chapters but the clean ending that it provided was a little unrealistic for me. However, this makes the book perfect for a very young teen as it's non-controversial and if this book had been around when I was that age I would have loved it. As it was I steamed through it in a day and thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a perfect holiday read: lightweight (but not entirely), a lovely main character and enjoyable.