Eighteen-year-old Taj James (aka TJ) is on the cusp of adulthood and his last summer in Cape Cod involves a romance with a younger girl and a changing relationship with the 55-year-old womanizing uncle who tried to make TJ his protege. In much the manner of Evan Hunter's classic Last Summer, T.J.'s Last Summer in Cape Cod is a coming-of-age story about adolescent sexuality, but Whyte's focus on evolving and changing relationships is much more emotionally charged and detailed, making it a top recommendation for readers of adolescent experience.
Many issues are explored in the best coming of age novels: not just changing hormones and evolving sexuality but, more importantly, an understanding of and growing moral and ethical platform. Behind predictable beauty and appeal lie hearts and minds conflicted by desire, psychological challenges, and emotional puzzles. Behind every athletic boy and beautiful girl lie choices and questions and the hard edge of decisions that only go to show that in life, appearance is the tip of the iceberg.
As T.J.'s Last Summer in Cape Cod unfolds its protagonists' interactions, growth, and secrets which can change perceptions of family and life itself, so readers are carried along for a closer inspection of what it means and feels like to teeter on the cusp of adulthood. From an uncle's life-changing decision to marriages on the edge of dissolution, the story throws in all the physical, emotional, and moral challenges that will bring TJ into the adult world.
While mature teens are a predictable audience for this story, it's also strongly recommended for adults who want to look back on those years with more than a one-dimensional perspective, to understand more deeply the workings and perceptions of the young adult mind.