Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer
Summary (as taken off Goodreads): "Before: It was the perfect summer of first kisses, skinny-dipping, and bonfires by the lake. Joy, Tali, Luce, and Zoe knew their final summer at Camp Okahatchee would come to an end, but they swore they’d stay friends.
After: Now, two years later, their bond has faded along with those memories.
Then: That is, until the fateful flash of a photo booth camera transports the four of them back in time, to the summer they were fifteen—the summer everything changed.
Now: The girls must recreate the past in order to return to the present. As they live through their second-chance summer, the mystery behind their lost friendship unravels, and a dark secret threatens to tear the girls apart all over again.
Always: Summers end. But this one will change them forever."
My Spoiler-Free Review (also on Goodreads):
Novels about summer camp always strike a chord with me. They make me feel so nostalgic and remember my own days at camp. This book sounded like it was going to combine time travel, summer camp, and girl friendships - and that sounded awesome.
But unfortunately, while this book did use all of those elements, this book did fall a little short for me. I found that the plot was focused more around romance and hooking up with boys (speaking of which - is that even allowed at summer camp? These kids need some supervision.) rather than focusing around the actual friendship between the girls.
And there was so much insta-love. At least two of the relationships were insta-lovey. Since the "love at first sight" trope is definitely a bookish pet peeve of mine, I was mildly annoyed at this small fact. They only spent five days in the past, and yet two of the four girls fell in love within the course of those five days? What? Why? How? It just didn't make sense and to me, it took away from the rest of the novel. Time that could have been spent fixing friendships was instead spent on romance that I had a hard time supporting.
Part of that may have been the fact that I had a hard time connecting with the characters. While I can definitely relate to the overall theme of losing friends that I value, I just couldn't see myself in Zoe, Tali, Joy, or Luce.
Not all of this book was bad, though! There were diverse characters in both race and sexuality (and in another aspect, but no spoilers from me). I appreciated seeing characters like that.
Another aspect I liked about the book was the easy-to-read writing style. Although a bit - for lack of better word - juvenile at times, there was definitely potential in the writing there and apparently the author writes poetry, so that may have helped with some of the amazing metaphors in this book. I did get really invested in the story, to the point where all the outside chatter fell away.
It was hooking. I read this book in less than 14 hours, and stayed up until 2 a.m to finish it. I couldn't put it down!
The ending - I did not see it coming, I'll tell you that much.
Short and Sweet Thoughts: While there were some problems with this book like insta-love and lack of connection with the characters, Proof of Forever was an overall quick and interesting read.
My Rating: 3/5 stars