Joanna Philbin's Daughters series is one I recommend to my upper elementary/tween readers, knowing they will enjoy the glamour of the characters and not have content that is too adult.
Philbin's latest series, is geared toward a more grown-up audience. The second installment Since Last Summer, picks up one summer later as Rory heads back to East Hampton again. This year Rory is no longer just hired help. She and Connor have been dating since the summer before, and Rory is thrilled to get to spend the summer as guest of the Rules. Isabella, Conner's sister, is Rory's best friend, and this summer gives the two a chance to catch up with each other.
Except things aren't going as Rory dreamed. Conner seems more interested in a group of school friends. When Rory is with them she is left out of conversations and just doesn't fit in. And keeping the secret of Isabella's paternity from Conner is making things difficult as well. Mr. and Mrs. Rule are separated, and Conner is having a hard time understanding how this could be happening. And, as a Rule, he has been well schooled in how to put on a good show.
Isabella is having her own struggles over the summer. Mike, the guy she hooked up with keeps turning up unexpectedly, and despite the fact that Isabella has a really great new boyfriend, she can't help thinking about Mike.
There's plenty of drama in Since Last Summer. Although the content is more adult than Philbin's previous series, I still give her credit for somehow sneaking in some good discussion points/life lessons without seeming preachy. I didn't agree with all of Rory's decisions - or Isabella's - but somehow Philbin is able to capture the confusion and emotions that are universal to the teen experience and create characters that are so relateable.
I can't wait to see what Rory and Isabella are up to next summer in East Hampton.