The Summer of Us


By Cecilia Vinesse

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$11.99 CAD

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A swoon-worthy story about five best friends on a whirlwind trip through Europe, perfect for fans of Jenny Han, Stephanie Perkins, and Jennifer E. Smith!

American expat Aubrey has only two weeks left in Europe before she leaves for college, and she's nowhere near ready. Good thing she and her best friend, Rae, have planned one last group trip across the continent. From Paris to Prague, they're going to explore famous museums, sip champagne in fancy restaurants, and eat as many croissants as possible with their friends Clara, Jonah, and Gabe.

But when old secrets come to light, Aubrey and Rae's trip goes from a carefree adventure to a complete disaster. For starters, there's Aubrey and Gabe's unresolved history, complicated by the fact that Aubrey is dating Jonah, Gabe's best friend. And then there's Rae's hopeless crush on the effortlessly cool Clara. How is Rae supposed to admit her feelings to someone so perfect when they're moving to different sides of the world in just a few weeks?

Author Cecilia Vinesse delivers a romantic European adventure that embraces the magic of warm summer nights, the thrill of first kisses, and the bittersweet ache of learning to say goodbye to the past while embracing the future.




Thursday, June 30 to Friday, July 1


When Aubrey thought about the trip, she imagined her whole life expanding.

She imagined moving beyond the walls of her tiny room in London and beyond high school and beyond everything that had seemed so important when she was a kid. She saw herself on a train, watching the world become a rush of color outside her window. Feeling like everything she’d been waiting for was about to begin.

But that didn’t mean she was ready.

“Of course you are,” Rae said over the phone. “You’re so ready it’s disturbing.”

“Disturbing how?” Aubrey perched on the edge of her bed. In one corner of the room, she saw everything she’d already packed for tomorrow: her new backpack filled with T-shirts, shorts, and SPF 50. Beside it, a stack of paperbacks from her summer reading list and a folder of all the train schedules she’d printed out over the past few weeks. In the opposite corner sat two open suitcases with a few sweaters resting inside and a different pile of books—her favorite ones, the ones she’d been carefully curating since March, the ones she would bring with her to New York.

Aubrey turned away from that corner.

“You have the organizational skills of a robot,” Rae said. “You’ve wanted to go to Columbia since forever, and you’ve been planning this trip all year, and—ow! Crap! Ow!

“What is it? What happened?”

“Nothing. I’m toasting marshmallows for dinner, and I burned myself.”

“Rae Tara Preston. What would your mother say?”

“She’s right here, and she says, ‘Give me some. I’m hungry.’”

Aubrey pulled her legs onto the bed and crossed them. Down the hall, she could hear her brother, Chris, blasting Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in his bedroom while her parents washed the dinner dishes in the kitchen. The kids next door must have been playing in their backyard, because squeals of laughter floated up through her open window. It all felt so normal and familiar. Aubrey swore she could close her eyes and convince herself that this was a regular summer night. That in a few weeks she would be going back to the London American School. That all her friends would be right there with her.

“Guess what?” Rae asked, breaking the silence. “In less than twenty-four hours, we’ll be in Paris!”

Aubrey sighed and lay back. “This is a good idea, right? I mean, we’re not going to get axe-murdered or anything, are we?”

“Do axe murderers hang out on trains?”

“They did in that horror movie. The one Jonah and Gabe made us watch.”

“Oh my God. That movie was such sexist trash.”

“Fine. But what about Strangers on a Train? Or Murder on the Orient Express? More murderers, more trains.”

“Aubs,” Rae said, “this is supposed to be fun. We’re young and we’re free and we get to travel around Europe for, like, nearly two weeks. You get to make out with your boyfriend in five major European cities.”

“Weird,” Aubrey said. “Don’t talk about me and Jonah making out in front of your mom.”

“She’s sketching something. She can barely even hear me. Besides, I think she knows you guys make out. She knows you’re living together next year.”

“We’re not living together. Columbia and NYU aren’t even in the same part of Manhattan.”

“Yeah, okay, but—Ow! These fucking marshmallows!

Aubrey exhaled a laugh. It was starting to get dark out, so she sat up and flicked on her bedside lamp. A pool of light illuminated her old-fashioned alarm clock and the two framed pictures beside it. One was of her and Chris at their grandparents’ old house in Shelton, Connecticut. The other definitely hadn’t been there earlier—her mom must have found it in the closet when she was helping Aubrey pack. It had been taken only a few weeks ago, after the last performance of the summer musical, but already that night seemed untouchable. Like something from a completely different part of Aubrey’s life. Her friends were a frozen blur of messy hair and smudged stage makeup. A poster for Singin’ in the Rain hung on the wall behind them. Clara waved a bouquet of red flowers over their heads, and Aubrey stood next to Gabe, her eyes crinkled at something he’d just said.

Instinctively, she turned off her lamp, making the image of her friends disappear. Like a curtain had fallen over them.

The room went dark, and outside the window, she could see the heavy violet of the sunset sky, bruised with clouds. She got up and peered out at the line of trees that separated her street from the ones behind it. She craned her neck, trying to see between the branches, imagining the short path that led from her house to Gabe’s—past pubs and shops and bike racks, following the River Thames before finally reaching his front door.

“Aubs?” Rae asked through a mouthful of marshmallow. “You still here?”

Aubrey dropped into her desk chair. “I’m still here.” She played with the keyboard on her laptop, flicking between open tabs on her browser. “Hey,” she said. “Did you know that tomorrow we’ll be in Paris?”

“Dude, yes. I am so unbelievably ready.”

“Yup,” Aubrey said. “Me too.”

And she tried to believe it—she tried again to think of this as a beginning. As the moment her life spiraled outward into something bigger and more exciting. But now when she pictured herself on a train, all she could see was it moving quickly into the distance, everything behind her getting smaller and smaller—until it was gone.

“I made coffee,” Rae’s mom, Lucy, said as she opened the front door a few seconds after Aubrey had knocked.

“Thanks.” Aubrey put her backpack down by the coatrack and accepted the purple ceramic mug.

Mom,” Rae said from the top of the stairs, her American accent contrasting sharply with Lucy’s crisp British one. “We don’t have time for coffee. We’re going to miss our train.”

“It’s almost one in the afternoon,” Aubrey said. “Did you just wake up?”

Rae gestured at her bed head and frog-printed pajama pants. “Your powers of deduction are outstanding.” She disappeared back into her room, her dog, Iorek, trotting at her feet. Aubrey exchanged looks with Lucy, who shrugged and said, “She’ll mellow out post-coffee.” Rae’s mom was dressed the way she always was—in an off-the-shoulder top, paint-splattered jeans, and feather earrings that made her look more like a cool older cousin than a parent. Although, to be fair, she was pretty young for an adult—Aubrey had come over for her thirty-seventh birthday party just last month.

“You should sit down.” Lucy cleared a box of paint tubes from a blue velvet armchair and gestured for Aubrey to take a seat. The living room seemed even more chaotic than usual. New hiking boots and rain jackets were heaped on the floor alongside shopping bags and open shipping boxes. Aubrey had been hanging out here since she’d moved to London seven years ago, but she still couldn’t get over how little the inside of the house matched the outside. Rae and her mom lived near Hyde Park in a row of terraced homes that, together, looked like an immaculate white sheet cake. The exterior of their house was all grand columns and Juliet balconies and elaborate moldings, but inside, Rae and Lucy lived among mismatched antique furniture, handmade clay sculptures, and canvases propped up against one another. Each wall was painted a different color, some of them with lines of pink hydrangeas added, others with white clouds sponged on.

“How are your parents?” Lucy asked. “They must be excited for you.”

Aubrey sipped her coffee, which had way too much sugar in it. “They’re—hyperventilating, I think. But okay.” She didn’t add that before she’d left that morning, her dad had made her recite the phone number of every American embassy in every country she was visiting.

“Don’t let them worry you,” Lucy said. “You’ll have an amazing time. It’s the perfect age for traveling around and being aimless. You don’t have to make any big life decisions yet.”

“Actually,” Aubrey said, “I already know what I’m going to major in.”

Lucy held her coffee mug over her mouth, trying to hide a smirk. Right, Aubrey thought. She probably means different kinds of decisions. Bigger decisions. Not that Aubrey could think of a bigger decision. She’d known she would major in English since she was fourteen, and she’d always hoped she would get into Columbia. After she graduated from college, she would get her master’s and then her PhD. And after that, she would apply for jobs as either an editor or a literature professor. She had it all worked out.

“Aubrey!” Rae shouted. “I need you!”

Aubrey took her coffee and went upstairs. Rae had already changed into a pair of ripped jeans and a Sleater-Kinney T-shirt with the sleeves cut off. Her long, curly hair was twisted into a topknot now, and she was standing in the middle of her room, bed unmade and clothes strewn around her feet. “Tell me what to bring,” she said.

“You’re not packed?” Aubrey slammed the door behind her.

“No, I’m totally packed,” Rae said. “This is just performance art.”

Aubrey shoved the mug into Rae’s hands. “Just drink this. Your mom said it would help. And shove whatever you can into a bag. We’ll sort it out in Paris.”

They crouched on the floor and started cramming pajamas and cutoffs into Rae’s backpack. Iorek settled his enormous form between them, thumping his fluffy white tail on the ground. Aubrey was almost glad for a few extra minutes in Rae’s room. She felt like she belonged there just as much as she did in her own. She recognized each of Rae’s sketches tacked to the walls and every photograph pegged to a clothesline strung across the ceiling. She knew that the beanbag chair in the corner covered a carpet burn from when Rae had attempted to flatiron her hair. And she’d been there the Boxing Day after Rae got her first camera and they’d spent hours jumping on the bed to Tegan and Sara, taking blurry photographs of each other.

“Camera!” Aubrey said suddenly. “And your sketchbook! You can’t forget those.”

Duh,” Rae said. “I packed all of that days ago.”

“No clothes, no toiletries, but you remembered your camera.”

“Yup.” Rae stopped packing for a second and slurped the coffee. “Hey. So. You’re doing better now, right?”

“Better about what?” Aubrey folded a white tank top in half.

Rae raised an eyebrow. “About college. And leaving home. All that stuff you were freaking out about last night.”

“I’m fine,” Aubrey said. “I had a few pre-travel jitters, that’s all.”

“Okay. So you’re not in any way nervous about spending the next thirteen days with—”

“Gabe?” Aubrey finished for her. She stopped folding. Even saying his name made her feel dizzy, like she was standing on the edge of a precipice, gazing down. “Of course not,” she said. “I can handle this. I’m an adult now.”

“You’re eighteen.”

“Exactly! I can vote. I can drink in most European countries.”

“Honestly?” Rae said. “I figured he’d be over it by now. I mean, he’s a straight dude. Straight dudes can only remember things that happened five minutes ago, right?”

“They’re not goldfish.”

“Well, I wouldn’t know. Crap! My passport! Can you grab it from my desk?”

“You were about to leave your passport?” Aubrey hopped up. The passport sat under a messy pile of papers, most of them from the University of Melbourne. Aubrey picked through glossy brochures and photocopied visa applications and printouts of plane reservations, the sight of it all making her feel like she was on that precipice again, reminding her that two weeks from now, right after they came home from this trip, Rae and Lucy would get on a plane and fly to Australia. Rae’s school year didn’t start until January, so it seemed ridiculous that she had to leave so soon, but Lucy wanted time to travel first. All last winter and spring, they’d shown Aubrey pictures of the places they were planning to go—endless golden beaches and coastal roads that seemed to fade into the sky. Soon, Rae would be there, half a world away, blending into the scenery.

And Aubrey would be somewhere else entirely.

“Dude.” Rae hoisted her bag onto her back. “I think we’re done.”

“Definitely.” Aubrey pushed aside her sticky feelings of worry and handed Rae the passport.

Rae stuffed it into her back pocket and held on to both of Aubrey’s wrists. Her green eyes were bright and gleaming. “Good,” she said. “Then let’s get the hell out of here.”



Friday, July 1


London to Paris to Amsterdam. Prague to Florence to Barcelona.

Rae knew which cities they were going to and when, but she mentally recited them anyway as she and Aubrey rode the tube to King’s Cross station.

London to Paris to Amsterdam.

Prague to Florence to Barcelona.

She knew the exact route they were taking—a line that carved from country to country, that bumped through cities and skirted along bodies of water. This was the trip Aubrey had been planning all year, the one they’d both been talking about since middle school. And it was finally happening.

The tube huffed to a stop at Russell Square, letting a group of people jostle off and another jostle on. Two women wearing business suits squeezed past Rae’s legs, forcing her to hug her backpack to her chest. Aubrey was looking through the map of Paris she’d downloaded onto her phone, whispering directions to herself, while Rae scrounged in her pocket for a stick of strawberry gum.

The tube started moving again. One more stop to go.

Rae wasn’t nervous—not exactly, anyway. And definitely not in the same way Aubrey was. She’d gone backpacking with her mom before, and she’d always loved the whole concept of train travel.

The constant forward momentum.

The going and going and feeling like you’d never slow down.

“We made it!” Aubrey said a few minutes later. They were heading across the busy outdoor plaza that led from King’s Cross to St. Pancras International, where they’d catch the Eurostar to Paris.

“We rode the tube.” Rae shoved her bangs away from her eyes, making the bangles on her wrist clink together. “We do that every day.”

“You’re just showing off,” Aubrey said, “because you’re more British than the rest of us.”

“Only technically,” Rae countered. Because honestly, she’d never really thought of herself as British. That was her mom—Lucy had grown up in London, but Rae was born in Georgia when her mom was a freshman in college. They’d stayed in the States until Rae was nine, after her grandmother died and left them an enormous house and a boatload of money.

At first, Rae had hated London. She’d missed the warmth of Georgia, and the small clapboard house she and her mom had lived in, and the weekends they’d spent driving down to the beach. Everything about England had seemed so gray to her then—the damp and the fog and the flat, metallic sky.

It seemed like the kind of place where she would never fit in, where she would feel bored and lonely forever. Until two years later, when Aubrey showed up at St. Catherine’s International School. When, halfway through their first homeroom together, Rae caught her rolling her eyes at Sophie French’s insistence that she was going to be cast in the next Harry Potter movie. And Rae had known it then. She’d known that this new girl was her best friend.

Now they walked into St. Pancras together, Rae breathing in the rusty city air and moving her bangs out of her face again to look up at the murky glass ceiling. The station was a cavern of clipping footsteps and humming voices. People moved through it like they were synced to its rhythm, like it was an ocean tide sweeping everyone—including Rae—along with it. She lowered her head and saw Clara leaning against a wall by the Eurostar check-in.

And that’s when Rae’s heart—and her lungs and probably everything else inside her—started to collapse. For a moment, the station quieted. Even the air in her chest went still.

Your hair!” Aubrey said, and the station roared back to life. Someone stumbled against Rae’s back, forcing her forward.

“When the hell did you do that?” Aubrey asked Clara.

“Does it suck?” Clara walked toward them, pulling her fingers through her hair, now dyed a deep cherry red. “I was thinking about it last night, and I decided I wanted something completely different for art school. But you can tell me if it sucks.”

“It doesn’t suck,” Rae said.

“No,” Aubrey said. “But it is dramatic.”

“Good dramatic,” Rae qualified. “Very Run Lola Run. It makes me want to do something radical with mine.”

“No way!” Aubrey said. “You’ve had the same hair since middle school. You wouldn’t look like Rae anymore.”

Rae snorted under her breath. She didn’t point out that looking the way she did in middle school probably wasn’t a good thing.

Aubrey turned back to Clara. “Did your parents lose it?”

“The doctors were very reasonable,” Clara said. “I think they both get that I’m a free woman now.” She adjusted the waist of her homemade skirt patterned with a map of Europe. She was also wearing a ruffled yellow tank top and a ring on each of her fingers. Everything about her was bright and colorful. Everything about her made Rae’s heart beat faster. “Anyway,” Clara said, “why are we standing around? We’ve got a train to catch.”

They shoved their backpacks through an X-ray machine, and an attendant wearing a blue uniform waved them through a metal detector. Rae took her time removing her bag from the conveyor belt as she told herself over and over that everything was fine. After all, she and Clara were friends; they’d hung out nearly every day since freshman year.

But they’d never spent hours crammed into the same tiny train compartment, or woken up in the same hostel room every morning, or crisscrossed an entire continent side by side. This was all-new territory—this traveling through cities and whisking across borders and falling asleep against each other’s shoulders. Rae had no map for it. She had no idea how to survive this trip while still keeping her biggest secret… a secret.

They reached the departure lounge and spotted Jonah in the far corner, waving them over. “How the hell did I beat you guys here?” he asked. “I never beat Aubrey anywhere.”

“Rae made us late,” Aubrey said.

“That’s true,” Rae said. “I did.”

“You jerk.” Clara dropped her bag onto the ground. “Did you seriously only save us one seat?”

“Nope.” Jonah rubbed one hand over his longish, sandy hair. “I saved Aubrey one seat.” He pulled her down beside him and kissed her quickly on the cheek. Clara groaned and sat on top of her bag while Rae sloughed off hers and did the same. Above them, screens lit up with new departure times and platforms. Clara was playing with the pink plastic ring on her thumb, and Rae noticed a polka-dotted Band-Aid on her index finger. “What happened to your hand?” she asked.

“This?” Clara held it up. “Sewing injury.”

Rae lifted her own ink-stained finger. “I stabbed myself with a pen when I was eight. See? There’s a scar and everything.”

“Being an artist is so badass,” Clara said, grinning. They touched their fingers together, making a jolt run all the way up Rae’s arm. If this had been a normal crush, Rae would have said something flirty then. Or she would have held her hand there for an extra moment. She would have told Clara how impressed she was by her—by her talent and the incredible costumes she was always designing and the prestigious art school she was going to in LA. Rae was planning to major in art as well, but she didn’t breathe it the way Clara did. She wasn’t anywhere near as driven.

And she would have told Clara all of that—if she hadn’t known how gushy and obvious it would sound. Because Clara wasn’t a normal crush. She was one of Rae’s best friends.

Rae pulled her hand back.

“So,” Jonah said, “you guys haven’t heard from Gabe?”

Rae and Aubrey made quick, nervous eye contact. “Nah, dude,” Rae said. “We figured you’d talked to him.”

“Nope.” Jonah yawned. “Didn’t he text you?”

He was addressing this to Aubrey, and Aubrey knew it, because Rae saw her expression freezing with alarm. Rae needed to do something—she needed to think fast. She jumped up, pointing at the screen above them. “THEY ANNOUNCED OUR PLATFORM!”

“Whoa,” Jonah said. “Someone’s excited.”

“It’s the summer before college.” Rae put her hands on her hips. “If I can’t be excited now, I might as well get a full-time job and a mortgage.”

Aubrey shot her a relieved look as they gathered up their stuff and moved through the trundling crowd. Rae scanned the people around them, hoping to notice Gabe’s dark hair or hipster concert T-shirt or the headphones he kept coiled around his neck. But all she could see was Disneyland Paris hats and bleary-eyed adults holding coffee cups and dozens and dozens of rolling suitcases. On the train, she crammed her bag onto an overhead rack and took the seat next to Aubrey. Clara was sitting in front of Jonah, but she turned around and said, “If Gabe doesn’t show, I’m sitting with you.”

“He’ll show,” Jonah said. “And no, you’re not. Your elbows are pointy as fuck.”

“My elbows aren’t pointy.” She bent her arm and stared at one. “Maybe yours are blunt. Let me see.”

Aubrey played with the catch on the tray table in front of her. “What if he’s not coming?” she whispered anxiously.

“Of course he is,” Rae whispered back. “He wouldn’t just bail on us.”

A woman in a paisley summer dress walked down the aisle, her strong perfume filling Rae’s nose. Rae picked at a rip in her jeans and mulled over what to say next. She could go with a traditional maybe he got lost. Or possibly the standard this doesn’t have anything to do with you. But the problem was, she didn’t know if either of those things was true. Gabe could have chickened out. He could have decided that coming here wasn’t worth the probable awkwardness.

And if he did decide that, it was definitely because of Aubrey.


  • Praise for The Summer of Us:

    "The atmospheric descriptions of the places they visit (and drink in), such as Amsterdam, Prague, and Florence, and the nuanced characterizations lend expansiveness to a plot that might otherwise have become a simple coming-of-age romance...A transformative odyssey of self-discovery."—Kirkus Reviews

  • "Vinesse never lets her story fall into melodrama, relying on solid character development and conflict...Crisp prose, quick dialogue, and vivid descriptions of the friends' travels add to the novel's appeal. YA readers...will enjoy the vicarious view through Aubrey and Rae's eyes in this engaging romantic novel about the ups and downs of changing relationships."—Publishers Weekly

  • "Readers who enjoy art history are in for treat with this book. The story's setting takes on the part of a sixth character and gives worn tropes a fresh new spin. Older teens will relate to Rae and Aubrey as they are likely making some of the same life choices. The emotions play out perfectly with the backdrop of romantic monuments, gritty bars, and elegant cafes. Recommended for realistic fiction ­collections."—SLJ

  • Praise for Seven Days of You:

    "How hard am I crushing on Seven Days of You? I'm crying, laughing, aching, and squealing all at once. I would live in this book if I could."—Becky Albertalli, award-winning author of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

  • "This dazzling and genuinely romantic story shows just how much your life can change in the course of a single week."—Jennifer E. Smith, author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

  • "Seven Days of You is a deliciously fizzy, neon-bright romance: a swoony tangle of past and future, love and friendship, and what exactly it means to be home."—Katie Cotugno, New York Times bestselling author of 99 Days

  • "This highly readable novel about finding home and discovering oneself will have fans of Stephanie Perkins's Anna and the French Kiss swooning."—SLJ

  • "Weaving in and out of Tokyo's karaoke rooms, coffee shops, night clubs, monuments, and food, food, and more food, the story delights. Have some tissues handy for the ending."—Kirkus

On Sale
Jun 5, 2018
Page Count
320 pages

Cecilia Vinesse

About the Author

Cecilia Vinesse is a dual citizen of the US and the UK, and, like her main characters, has spent much of her life as an expat. She is a graduate of Barnard College in New York, holds a master’s degree in creative writing from St. Andrews, and is the author of Seven Days of You and The Summer of Us. She currently lives in England.

Learn more about this author