I Know What You Did Last Summer
Author: Lois Duncan
Four teenagers make a pact after a devastating car accident, promising to never talk about that night. A night when their lives changed forever. A year later the teenagers start receiving letters that remind them of what they did and worse, what they didn’t do. Being haunted and stalked, they try to figure out who is behind it all and what to do before one of them or all of them end up dead.
First things first, this book is nothing like the 1997 film, which was a horror and went off of the urban legend of the man with a hook for a hand. There are so many differences between the book and movie from what the characters look like to what actually happened that made them form a pact of silence. Also, the body count was much lower in the book. However, both cover the theme of revenge and guilt very well.
This book is quite accessible as it read on a 7th-8th grade level. And I realize it took me two months to read, but in my defense, it sits right beside my pillow as my bedside reader. It wasn’t heart attack inducing or anything of the sort. Nonetheless, I found the story to be quite enjoyable.
Books like these are rare these days. The build-up and curiosity reeled me in. These kids had ordinary lives and now what should be the best time of their lives—going to college, getting an amazing job—is actually riddled with anxiety and dread. But I think what really surprised me was that it was both predictable and unpredictable. I discovered who the antagonist was. It was easy, but I certainly didn’t expect the plot twists and in depth explorations behind the accident. Lois explored each angle, detailing each family and showing how each of them struggled. It really opened my eyes about the varying relationships between parent and child.
One of my favorite things about this is the consistent tone of the story and the way the language magnified the time period when pot and alcohol was revered as major gateways to a low life. That you wouldn’t go anywhere in life if you partook in these things. You were breaking all kinds of rules if you were out partying all night. The vocabulary itself showed just how much language changes over time. We certainly don’t talk like the way they do in the book anymore. It’s so light and simple compared to the complexities of today’s ever-growing language. These days we’ve even added emojis to our language base.
This book is an instant classic and it’s one worth reading again. One certainly gets a feeling for what it’s like to harbor terrible secrets. Definitely earned five bolts from me.
“It’s like something out of a move. You think of things like this happening in New York and Chicago and places like that, not in peaceful towns with normal people.” (Elsa, p. 108)
“Something bad is going to happen and there’s nothing I can do to stop it.” (Julie’s mom, p. 268)
“The heavy blackness was all around her. And she knew at last what it was like to be alone in the night.” (Julie, p. 195)
More to come soon…
P.S. Song today? Eighteen by Creed.