Dawg-Eared: ‘It’s Not Summer Without’ books

Catching some sunshine after a day of classes, junior English major Miranda Emerick sits in her favorite reading spot and reads. Photo by Elle Rotter

ELLE ROTTER | STAFF REPORTER | earotter@butler.edu 

“Dawg-Eared” is a book review column that covers books that Bulldogs have requested, including popular series, books that have been turned into movies and niche books that keep Dawgs turning the pages

September is considered the end of summer. Well, technically, it does not end until Sept. 23. However, many people consider Labor Day to be summer’s last hurrah. School is back in session. Pools are closing for the year. Students get one last break before heading into the thick of the school year. While summer comes to a close and the temperature starts to cool, Butler students share some hot reads from the summer that can be enjoyed throughout the school year. 

“The Spanish Love Deception” by Elena Armas 

The romance novel “The Spanish Love Deception” dabbles in every desired romance trope ranging from rivals to lovers, to forbidden love and fake relationships, to close proximity romance and slow-burn romance. The wide range of tropes highlighted in this novel makes for a unique page-turner. 

The main character Catalina, known to some as Lina, struggles throughout the book with communication and accepting love from people in her life including friends, family and potential love interests, while trying to unconditionally love everyone back. 

Giana LaPorte, a first-year criminology-psychology major and member of Butler’s book club Bookish Bulldogs, read “The Spanish Love Deception” this year. LaPorte claimed that this book was one of her favorite summertime reads. 

“I would say [the strongest aspect of this book] is the character development, especially for the main character Lina,” LaPorte said. “She started off the book very unsure of her relationship with her love interest and also very insecure communicating with others. Towards the end of the book, she was very open, and she finally accepted the love people were giving, and she didn’t think she was undeserving of it. So I really liked that aspect.” 

Lina is a hard-working woman in a competitive work environment. However, no matter how hard she works, Lina also finds a way to view herself in a negative light. Lina provides a very realistic window into the mind of a woman with body image issues. Author Elena Armas characterizes warning signs of Lina struggling with an eating disorder among other mental illnesses that the protagonist works to unravel throughout the duration of this book. 

“The main character [is] a plus-size woman,” LaPorte said. “She [is] a woman in a male-dominated workforce, and that always piques my interest. I like hearing her perspective because it resonates with a lot of other women like myself who hope to go into a male-dominated field.” 

Overall, the book is a slow burn, so it takes a while for the plot to pick up and the romance to begin, but every detail included in the first half of the book is vital to understanding Lina as a character and how she handles relationships. Although LaPorte stated the miscommunication trope is a big downfall of this book, she praised the author on the relationships that Lina builds with not just her love interest, but also the side characters in this book. 

The Summer I Turned Pretty” Series by Jenny Han 

“The Summer I Turned Pretty” by Jenny Han is a trilogy that has more meaning to it than just the romance that is advertised on the back cover and in the media. Covering topics from depression to personal growth and self-discovery, this series has a lot to teach to its audience. The series became popular enough that Prime Video decided to work with Han to create a TV adaptation. The show released its second season, which consisted of eight episodes, from July 14 through Aug. 18. 

Every summer Belly Conklin spends her days on Cousins Beach with her mother and her brother Steven, sharing a beach house with her mother’s best friend Susannah Fisher and her two sons, Conrad and Jeremiah. Belly is used to chasing the boys around all summer trying to fit in and spend time with them, but this summer is different. Belly got pretty. And now Conrad, who Belly has had a crush on for as long as she can remember, is finally starting to give her attention — but so is Jeremiah who Belly considers her best friend in the entire world. 

Every book covers a different summer and includes a different story about how her relationships with the boys change. However, these books are not just about her love life, but how Belly has grown, changed and learned to appreciate family and friendships over romantic relationships. 

Book one, “The Summer I Turned Pretty,” serves to introduce the characters and their relationships. Book two, “It’s Not Summer Without You,” covers deeper topics like grief and depression. Book three, “We’ll Always Have Summer,” ties the story together and leaves readers with a happy ending. 

Although advertised as a romance and drama, the series often reads as a young adult novel. Anna Grace Muckerheide, a first-year youth and community development major and member of Bookish Bulldogs, was surprised to discover such deep topics within the light-hearted book it appeared to be, but was also shocked by the book because it was an easy read. 

“The second book wasn’t only about the romance and the friendships, but it was also about grief and mental illness, and I think the author showed them in a good way for younger audiences,” Muckerheide said. “She covered it but didn’t go deeply into it, so kids could learn what it’s like to have mental illnesses or go through the loss of a loved one, but it was not too heavy for them to read about.” 

Although the books seemed to impress many with strong character development, relationships and telling side-characters, one common critique was that the ending of each book, and the series in total, was fairly predictable. Johnson agreed with this critique stating that the ending was her least favorite part of the series because of its predictability factor. 

With the series premiering the production of season two, the fandom of this book series exploded over the summer. Fans held parties with friends and family to watch the series together. The show also encouraged new readers to seek out the original series. 

Prime Video confirmed on Aug. 3 that the TV series will return for a third season covering the third and final book of Jenny Han’s series, but it is not confirmed whether or not this will be the last season of the show. 

Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens 

After the 2022 film “Where the Crawdads Sing” was released on Netflix and Prime Video, popularity of the 2018 book sprung back to life. Delia Owens, author of “Where the Crawdads Sing,” sold over 1.1 million copies in the first year of publication. Four years later, during the production of the movie, sales increased to over 12 million copies sold globally. 

Haley Johnson, first-year pre-pharmacy major and another member of Bookish Bulldogs, bought the book years ago but finally decided to read after the movie came out in 2022. 

“I would definitely recommend it because it spreads a good message about growing up and how love and relationships can be a challenge sometimes, but you can end up working through those,” Johnson said. “The book [also demonstrates] how you can change your situation from poverty to having a fulfilling life and just getting back on your feet.” 

This coming-of-age story takes place in North Carolina throughout the 1950s and 60s. Kya, known to the town as “Marsh Girl,” is abandoned by her mother and siblings at the age of six. Owens advertises the novel as a mystery, and that’s what readers expect going into the book.  But readers were surprised to read in-depth stories about Kya’s childhood and how she was forced to survive the harsh world on her own. By the time Kya is in her 20s, she is the main suspect in the murder of a beloved town figure. Readers have to weigh the pros and cons of the mystery and decide whose tale of events they believe while at the same time learning about the horrific narrative of Kya’s childhood and battling for her innocence in her criminal trial. 

Junior English major Miranda Emerick found this book to be a fun read, finding the character development and setting to be the strongest aspects of the book. Emerick also said that there were some pacing problems from a technical standpoint. 

“I think the best part is the setting and characters as a whole,” Emerick said. “It’s really interesting because you don’t see that [setting] a lot, especially like the rural, swampy types of town. I thought that was a really interesting place to set [the book], and it ended up working out really well for the context of the book.” 

There was a lot more backstory to Kya’s life than readers, like Johnson, were expecting. The back cover of the book alludes to a more mystery-based novel than what was produced. However, the final product creates a more cohesive story about Kya’s life in total and how her experiences shaped her into the person that she becomes. 

“I was expecting something a little more light-hearted,” Johnson said. “The first couple pages started out actually pretty sad. I thought it was going to be more about love — which it was — but there were also some darker elements to it. I ended up really liking it. It opened my eyes about how the main character was abandoned as a little kid and basically had her siblings and then later only herself to basically raise and grow up with.” 

Other than the book’s issues with pacing and starting off slow, readers like Johnson highly recommend this book to others based on how eye-opening this book is. Readers are forced to push the limits of their imagination and explore the wonders of nature while grappling with all of the emotions and struggles that Kya battles throughout this novel. 

Overall, there are a lot of books that rose in popularity this summer. These are just a few that are recommended by other Butler students. Positive reading communities, including interacting with #booktok, or having a discussion with a local book club, help influence and encourage reading. 


Book Resources 

Irwin Library

4600 Sunset Ave.

Indianapolis, IN 46208


Indianapolis Public Library 

The Indianapolis Public Library

P.O. Box 211

Indianapolis, IN 46206-0211



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