I'll admit that this book was chosen for its cover on a recent library trip. Seeing the three girls on the cover, looking out over water, I couldn't imagine not enjoying this one. Luckily, the cover love proved to be an accurate predictor of my enjoyment of this book.
The summers of 1971, 1972, and 1973 are covered in this book as three very different girls meet and attend a summer camp together in Switzerland. Vivien is sent to summer camp as she struggles with friendships, fitting in, and her parents. Shirin, an Iranian princess, attends camp, bringing with her her spoiled attitude from home. And Ingrid, the rule breaker, rounds out the trio.
It is hard to imagine these three forging a friendship, and yet through time and shared experiences they form a tight bond. All three prize the friendship they have formed and are closer with each other than they are with friends from their homes. I enjoyed the friendship portion of the story, trying to decide if this friendship was realistic or not. Ultimately I decided that while the three girls are extremely different their shared circumstances as a powerful connection.
Each summer there are challenges the girls face and a plot that continues to unfold over time. By the third summer the storylines converge in a way unexpected to me, but done so expertly
I also enjoyed the 1970s setting. The girls struggle to stay in touch with each other, having to write letters (the old fashioned way of corresponding!) and await a reply from their friends. Tensions with Iran are revealed as well, as are events which led Vivien's family to leave Cuba.
Read alikes: Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares and Summer Sisters by Judy Blume