Julian Winters has written the ultimate Young Adult catnip.
From his debut sports novel Running with Lions to his adoptee story How to Be Remy Cameron, Winters’ inclusive books tackle serious topics with sensitivity and humor—and with cinnamon roll characters you want to hug. His latest, The Summer of Everything, boasts many YA tropes to adore. A protagonist who’s smitten with a best friend? Check. Who’s obsessed with “old” music? Done. And who’s a nerd working at a bookstore? Absolutely.
Here’s the description of The Summer of Everything from the publisher:
Comic book geek Wesley Hudson excels at two things: slacking off at his job and pining after his best friend, Nico. Advice from his friends, ‘90s alt-rock songs and online dating articles aren’t helping much with his secret crush. And his dream job at Once Upon a Page, the local used bookstore, is threatened when a coffeeshop franchise wants to buy the property. To top it off, his annoying brother needs wedding planning advice. When all three problems converge, Wes comes face-to-face with the one thing he’s been avoiding—adulthood.
Now, confronted with reality, can Wes balance saving the bookstore and his strained sibling relationship? Can he win the heart of his crush?
The Summer of Everything will be in bookstores everywhere this fall, and we’re excited to give you a sneak peek! Check out the exclusive excerpt and the eye-catching cover reveal below:
Cover design by C.B. Messer
Duet Books, the YA imprint of Interlude Press, will release The Summer of Everything on August 4th. You can pre-order it here.
“Car, car… another car!”
It’s a shame that Wes is going to die young.
He’s got one hand on the passenger door and another braced on the dashboard, and his small intestine is currently lodged in his throat as Ella whips her car around the 405 as if she’s a Formula One driver. Above his head, a forest of tree-shaped car fresheners swings joyfully from the rearview mirror. A Taylor Swift Funko Pop figure, scribbled over with a dark Sharpie to look dark and menacing, mocks him from the dashboard.
This is why Ella’s runner-up in the best friend category. Because Wes, who hasn’t left his mark on the world or met his favorite comic book writer, Geoff Johns, and has only been to one Weezer concert in eighteen years of existing, will die an underachiever.
From the driver’s seat, Ella cackles. “Chill, Wesley.”
“Do not call me that,” he says through his teeth. “Also, eyes on the freaking road!”
The car weaves through two SUVs, dodges a Corvette, and barely misses making out with the grill of a semi-truck.
How is she even able to drive at these speeds? It might be eight o’clock on a Sunday evening, but there’s no lack of traffic in Southern California. In fact, there’s never a shortage of traffic in the entire state of California.
“Did you piss your Spider-Man briefs yet?”
“I hate you,” grumbles Wes but his words are drowned out when Ella leans forward to crank the volume on her cheap stereo system.
The real travesty here is that Wes is going to die while listening to “High Hopes” by Panic! At the Disco.
Ella is aggressively in love with her emo-pop-punk music. Wes, on the other hand, is a ‘90s alt-rock singer stuck in a geek’s body. He’s hardcore about garage bands and summer punk anthems—without the tattoos and flannel overload, of course. But Wes listens to his music at a reasonable, “respect others” level, while Ella cranks playlists to ears-bleeding levels of disgrace.
As they merge onto the I-10, the traffic ebbs. Ella decelerates to NASCAR-levels of road debauchery. She lowers the volume on the stereo and cracks the windows just enough for Wes to breathe in a lungful of sweet, sticky California air. There’s this flavor to it, as if the ocean is so close, as if the sunset tastes like heat and oranges.
It’s still early July but summer is alive and kicking this close to Santa Monica.
“Now that you’re done being all Euro-hot,” Ella says with a sly grin.
“That’s not a thing.”
“It’s very much not a thing,” Wes argues, shaking his head. “Besides, I’ve always been way hot.”
“Like, anyone can edit the definition, Wikipedia hot?”
Wes’s body betrays him with a snort, then a chuckle. Ella isn’t that funny. He kicks his russet-orange Pumas up on the dash, nearly knocking over Evil Taylor Swift, then slouches in his seat. “Listen, El, I’m not some cynical, self-deprecating Netflix teen who complains about how boring he looks when in actuality I’m super-attractive after you peel back my ‘nerdy layers.’ Geek is the new hot.”
“So, you’re like She’s All That hot?”
Wes rolls his eyes. Yeah, he gets the reference. He’s seen the movie. He was also very unimpressed.
“I mean, I guess.”
“It’s the curls, right?” Ella teases.
Wes can’t disagree. His distinguishable hair genes—along with his severe jaw line—are from his mom’s side of the family. But he mostly favors Calvin Hudson—tall with a long nose, full flips, more-brown-than-green hazel eyes and a need to shave everything since he was fifteen. But Wes didn’t inherit his father’s pale brown skin; neither did Leo. Wes’s complexion is like a faded tan.
Anyway, Wes is totally hot. Geeky hot. Squint-until-you-see-it hot. But his brown curls definitely help that cause.
“So, now that you’re hot,” Ella says, still driving as if Wes didn’t want to see his nineteenth birthday, “we can start finding you some prospects? Or are we waiting until school starts in September?”
Another great thing about Ella: She’s going to UCLA in the fall too. Wes won’t be alone as he tries to figure out who the hell he is. Not that Ella has ever been much assistance in that regard. It’s just nice to have her around as he experiences his first post-high-school existential crisis.
“I don’t need any prospects,” Wes replies with as much nonchalance as a lying politician.
“Nope. I’m good. Happy and single.”
“Single, yes,” Ella agrees, but there’s a certain tone in her voice. “Happy? Depends on how you classify it.”
“I classify it as Wes Hudson, a guy on the verge of getting his life together.”
“So, the utter opposite of happy.”
Again, Wes rolls his eyes. “Ella, I’m not going to spend my summer chasing after boys to fill some emptiness you think exists.”
“Well, not boys,” she replies, another hint blooming, “but hopefully you won’t be chasing the same boy.”
Wes’s hands curl into fists in his lap. He crosses his ankles on the dashboard and stares pointedly at everything but Ella.
He knows where this conversation is going. “You can stop implying.”
“I will when you stop avoiding,” counters Ella.
“I’m not avoiding anything,” Wes hisses. But he is. He most definitely is. “I just want to spend this summer kicking back. Go to a party or two. Read comics. Avoid Leo. Hang out as much as possible at Once Upon a Page. That’s it.”
Ella sighs heavily. “Oh, here we go…”
Yup, here we go.
Wes is certain they’ve had at least ten different versions of this discussion over the short span of their friendship.
“All you do is spend time at the bookstore,” says Ella. “As if all you want out of life is that damn place and Nico.”
There, she’s said it. Now, it’s all Wes will be thinking about for the next fifteen minutes.
It’s not as if Wes hasn’t thought about this one thing since, well, tenth grade. But he’s a realist. He knows discussing his massive crush on his best friend with other people has never solved the problem. If just talking about all life’s problems solved anything, people might actually be a lot further along with their dreams and goals than just a hashtag on social media.
“Listen.” Wes sighs, angling his body in Ella’s direction. “Life’s good. We’re done with high school. I smashed my college essay, and we’re headed to my dream school…”
“Your parents’ dream school,” Ella corrects.
Wes’s parents are UCLA alums, not that that had a direct impact on why he chose to stay closer to home. Santa Monica is his life. Once Upon a Page is his life. And maybe he wanted to be where all his memories with Nico exist, since Nico won’t be at UCLA with him. That’s another thing he’s determined not to think about for the foreseeable future.
“What I’m trying to say is, the rest of the summer is going to be killer. It’s going to be memorable.”
Ella rolls her eyes, but a hint of a smile pulls at her lips. “Whatever you say, pal.”
The car pulls into the parking garage behind a pale pink building. Wes doesn’t care if Ella agrees with him. He’s home. He has two months left to execute his nonexistent plan. And he’s damn sure going to make the most of what he’s got.