Searching for a swoon-worthy YA to add to your beach reads pile? Nicole Williams has you covered with Trusting You and Other Lies, a contemporary YA romance set at a woodsy summer camp and featuring a delicious slow-burn romance.
The novel centers around the summer romance between camp counselor Phoenix and her supervisor, Callum. She’s athletic but more academically inclined, while he’s a mountain-warrior with the lowest GPA in his class. The two balance each other well, pushing one another out of their comfort zones and towards better versions of themselves. And although Phoenix was immediately attracted to Callum, her heart took a while to catch up; though it’s obvious the two will eventually get together, it never feels contrived or unnatural. When they finally (over halfway through the book) admit their feelings, the romance moves from slow-burn to heated fast. But Williams places emphasis on consent; Callum even says to Phoenix that he “won’t do anything without checking with her first,” sending a sex-positive, consent-oriented message to teen readers.
Despite being a light and fast summer read, Trusting You packs emotional depth; as Phoenix’s father grapples with years of unemployment, their family’s bond is tested by heavy financial stress. Secrets surrounding foreclosure and poverty form resentment between Phoenix and her parents, who she sees as lying to her and failing to properly care for her younger brother, Harry. These complex family dynamics not only add depth to the novel, but also complicate her relationship with Callum. Especially (as the title suggests) regarding issues of trust.
While the emotional relationships are the heart of the story, Williams keeps readers on the edge of their seats through the natural obstacles presented by the camp site – from a dangerous white rafting expedition to a dramatic accident on a mountain biking trail. But these physical obstacles aren’t just exciting distractions to add oomph to the plot; instead, they mirror the emotional terrains the characters navigate internally. It’s a near perfectly balanced novel that will fulfill a reader’s sense for adventure, resolution and, of course, faith in summer love.