That Blue Summer by Atsuko Namba
High schooler Rio romanticizes fate, especially when it comes to love. When her mom sends Rio and her brother to stay with their grandmother in the mountains for the summer, Rio expects a pleasant if boring break without her friends. But when she encounters local boy Ginzo twice in one day, she can’t ignore the signs. As Rio spends time with Ginzo and his friends, works at her grandmother’s soba shop, and gets to know the small town community, she starts to rethink fate in its many forms for herself and those around her.
Senior Ginzo works for his family’s local liquor store; his future is planned. He spends his free moments taking photos, designing postcards advertising the store, and hanging out with his friends. After he befriends Rio he can’t seem to accept his fate as much as he might like to or pretend to.
Rio spends her summer falling in love while also learning to understand other perspectives and growing up in the process. This story is thoughtful in how it portrays many points of view on small town life. Some folks see their small community as a boon, while others see it as a lack of choices, and still others grapple with the messy feelings of loving a place while also wanting to leave it. Refreshingly, not everyone ends up agreeing and all make the right choice for themselves.
Namba weaves a bright, first love story with complicated feelings surrounding what the future holds, living in a small town, and the choices people must make. This sweet summer romance has that extra little something making it a great way to start the season!