For me, the way I differentiate between a so-so novel and a great novel is by how much it crosses my mind after I have finished it. Don’t get me wrong - I think that being able to write a novel and have it published is a great achievement in itself.
But that’s the beauty of reading, isn’t it?
Two people can read the same book differently. They can take away different ideas, learn different things, attach themselves to sentences, words, chapters, and characters for different reasons, attribute meaning through their different experiences in life. Sure, you may see them laugh and cry during the same points; but I bet if you asked them to share why they are responding that way, you’d get completely different answers.
I just finished The Last Summer (of You & Me) by Anne Brashares and I can safely say that it will cross my mind for years to come.
I have a deep appreciation for books that challenge the way I think. I found myself relating to the three main characters so often while reading, paralleling their heartache, happiness, and life-changing moments with my real-life experiences. And while I could relate to their feelings, I was challenged with how these characters responded to those feelings - how they dealt with them. This is the second book that I have read by Brashares that has done this to me (the first being My Name is Memory…read it!) and I am thankful for it.
I highly recommend this book and author to you.