Salute Your Shorts: The Spring Before I Met You & The Summer Before I Met You by Sarah Rees Brennan

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September 22, 2012 by Heidi

Salute Your Shorts

Salute Your Shorts is a weekly (ish) feature here at Bunbury in the Stacks highlighting and reviewing short stories and novellas.

I’ve been sort of terrible about doing Salute Your Shorts posts lately, but since I spent yesterday gushing about Unspoken, Sarah Rees Brennan’s first book in her new series, The Lynburn Legacy, I thought it would be fun to talk about the two short stories she wrote as prequels to this book.  Both shorts are available to read free online (links provided).  While I normally recommend prequel shorts as a way to ‘test-drive’ a series, I actually recommend these two more for those who have already read Unspoken.

The Spring Before I Met You by Sarah Rees Brennan book coverTitle: The Spring Before I Met You [Amazon|Goodreads]
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan [Website|Twitter|Facebook]
Standing: The Lynburn Legacy .25
Genre: Young Adult, Gothic, Paranormal
Published: September 11th, 2012
Format: Free PDF; 15 pages
Source: Amazon

I was thrilled when Unspoken was released, and with it this short story featuring Jared.  I went in expecting it to be from Jared’s point of view, and was honestly even more excited when I realized we were once again viewing him through an outsider, but this time it was someone who knew him and could get to him less than Kami.

The Spring Before I Met You is told through the eyes of an unqualified but persistent guidance counselled, Mariel, attempting to help students in a rough neighborhood of San Francisco.  Of course, our man Jared is one of the students she sets out to try to reach.

It’s rather heartbreaking to see Jared from this perspective, but the outsider view gives us some valuable insight into his character.  In Unspoken, we only know Jared through Kami, who shares his soul, the town of Sorry-in-the-Vale, who fears him instinctively for the family he is a part of, and through his family, who look upon him as an outsider within their own ranks.  It is more clear than ever through this short that Kami is the only place where Jared ever feels that he fits, and that Kami is the only person who he feels can ever be on his side.

It’s fun to see Jared talk so affectionately about Kami before they actually meet, but he’s also fiercely possessive in a way that reveals how much nearer to hopelessness he would be without her acting as his constant companion and voice of reason.  At the same time, we realize how Jared is using Kami as a crutch–he has never had to find an escape from his own mind, because his mind is his refuge.

The family dynamics of the Lynburns continue to break my heart, though I honestly didn’t touch on them in my review of Unspoken.  I had so wanted his family to care about him in ways that he just couldn’t see, that I failed to realize for some time how incredibly horrible being a part of his family truly was.  I was utterly convinced that Jared’s mother loved him and was trying to protect him from the rest of her family, but had I read The Spring Before I Met You first, I would have known her true inclinations toward her son.  Additionally, I’m not sure I fully embraced the horribleness of Jared having Ash for a cousin in Unspoken.  Mariel thinks of him “Imagine being faced with a mirror of yourself perfected”, and I am certain that’s precisely how Jared feels.  It’s little wonder to me that Jared might assume Kami would prefer Ash to him.

Still, I love that we receive only the shortest glimpses from Jared’s perspective–never enough to really get in his head and understand what he is thinking or feeling toward Kami or their situation.  It’s only fair that we as the readers have to puzzle Jared out along with the rest of the cast, and I’m very much looking forward to doing so.  The Spring Before I Met You is a must read for anyone who enjoyed Unspoken.  It reminds you that Jared has a wonderful sense of humor, that he wants to do right by those around him and has the capacity to love and be a good friend despite his legacy.

“All fiction is better with explosions,” said Jared. “Basic fact of life.”

I’m going to hold you to that, Sarah Rees Brennan.

The Summer Before I Met You by Sarah Rees Brennan book cover

Title: The Summer Before I Met You [Scribd|Goodreads]
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan [Website|Twitter|Facebook]
Standing: The Lynburn Legacy .5
Genre: Young Adult, Gothic, Paranormal
Published: September 5th, 2012
Format: Free PDF; 13 pages
Source: Scribd

If we are always on the outside looking in at Jared, it seems that Kami will be the star of her own story whether she’s the one telling it or not.  In The Summer Before I Met You, we see Kami and Angela through the eyes of Liz, a fresh out of college girl who agreed to run the summer cricket camp outside of Sorry-in-the-Vale with the two high school girls as her help.

Kami is so full of spunk, energetic, and fun, it’s easy to see how she ends up ever leading her friends around by the nose and pushing them into trouble.  Here, much like with the school paper, Kami signs up Angela against her will, but Angela follows regardless.  I love that Liz’s initial thoughts of the two place cutesy Kami as the goofy sidekick, when in reality it’s sultry Angela who fills that roll.

The Summer Before I Met You doesn’t really give us any more insight into Kami, she’s the same intrepid girl we see in Unspoken, but it does give us the opportunity to view her as an outsider with nary a mention of one of the most important people in her life–Jared.  We get to see Kami with her grandmother, she how she fit into her family better before she was gone.  We get to meet the ineffable Claude (okay, he’s completely effable–he’s a tool), and of course spend more time with the lovable Rusty.  I know I didn’t mention Angela’s big brother in my review of Unspoken yesterday (because really, the word count was already getting out of hand), but I adore Rusty.  Quite frankly, I’d be happy to see her brush off both those Lynburn boys and end up with him.  But as Kami says, she’s 16, she’s not looking for love–she’s looking for cheap thrills.

This statement, while fun, does actually give us a glimpse into how she feels about Jared.  She obviously feels that she has unconditional love in her life, but she doesn’t feel as if anyone really picked her.  Jared has always been there, not someone who picked her out special and chose her over any other girl.  But then, it’s also possible that Kami’s feelings are already so tied up with Jared’s that she’s not sure she can feel really deeply about another boy with him in her head.

We do see through Liz that Kami is much better about hiding Jared than Jared seems to be about hiding Kami–certainly better than she comes across through her own eyes in Unspoken.  Kami paints a picture of a girl who always believes in herself, but we get the feeling that whether or not this is true, her having that constant support from Jared believing in her helps construct this persona.  Regardless, she’ll steal any show she has a bit part in, but in the most fun and lovable way possible.

“Usually I like my men the same way I like my bank account—in double digits.”

I hear that, Kami.

I’ve also reviewed:
Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy 1)

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5 comments »

  1. VeganYANerds says:

    Both of these sound great and I’ll be off to check out your Unspoken review right after I’m done here. Thanks for the tip about reading these after reading Unspoken – I’ll remember that once I’ve read it :)

    • Heidi says:

      I hope you do! I think they gave some nice extra insight into these characters, but I’m not sure I’d have appreciated them as much if I’d read this first before I’d seen where the characters go in Unspoken.

  2. Incredible reviews, Heidi! I loved The Spring Before I Met You as well since I did think it gave us so much more insight into Jared’s mind, perspective, and dependency on Kami. Plus, I was pleasantly surprised by the narration method and thought it worked extremely efficiently. You could see from a relatively unbiased standpoint just how broken – but truly good – Jared was inside.

    I have yet to pick up The Summer Before I Met You, but I’m glad to read anything with Kami in it. I love how her family is such a large and defining aspect in her life and I’m curious to read Liz’s POV. I love that Brennan writes everything in such a unique manner, so I’m going to have to pick this one up soon! :)

    • Heidi says:

      Yes, exactly! I love that we were able to see Jared from that outside perspective because it was unbiased, and we still saw Jared as essentially good at heart despite his struggles. Summer was fun too! Kami really dominates the story, but in her charming way you just can’t help but love. 😀

  3. […] The Spring Before I Met You by Sarah Rees Brennan (The Lynburn Legacy .25) The Summer Before I Met You by Sarah Rees Brennan (The Lynburn Legacy .5) Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan (The Lynburn Legacy 1) […]

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While the source for each book I review is posted within its review, please assume unless otherwise stated that books reviewed on Bunbury in the Stacks were received free from the author or publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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