By Hunter Beetham
Original Publication: 1973
Main Characters: Julie James, Ray Bronson, Barry Cox, and Helen Rivers
POV: Third Person Omniscient
The book starts out with Julie receiving a letter that reads, “I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER,” which reminds her of the previous summer when her and her friends (Ray, Barry, and Helen) killed a fifteen year-old boy in a hit-and-run car accident.
The note immediately starts a conflict between the four teens as they try to decide who the note came from. Helen is scared someone knows, and Barry believes it to be a sick joke by Ray who had left for college in California after ending a relationship with Julie.
After Julie talks to Helen and Barry she returns to her house, and Ray is there. He confesses that he still has feelings for her and it is revealed that she does not share the feeling. Ray meets her new boyfriend (Bud) while leaving.
Helen, a beauty queen winner, meets a boy (Collie) while she is sun tanning. When she returns home there is a picture of a boy taped to her door.
A similar situation happens to Ray, who receives a newspaper article about the boy they had killed.
Barry, leaving his college frat, is shot. Upon hearing this Ray picks up Helen and they go to the hospital. But they are kicked out by Barry’s mother who accuses Helen of calling him then getting him shot.
Julie and Barry then go to the boy’s house where they meet the sister and learn about the family’s collapse since the boy’s death. When the two return they decide Helen is not the killer, and neither are the members of the boy’s family.
Ray then meets with Julie’s new boyfriend, and tells him that he will get her back
Both Helen and Julie then have encounters with the killer, the identity is made clear, and the book comes to a conclusion. Read to find out.
What To Take: I Know What You Did Last Summer brings into light the repercussions of living with a lie while bringing in issues of revenge and love.
Could It Be Taught: Yes, though at a lower level (middle school). The book is too obvious at points, and despite freaky, the book caters to a younger audience with its focus on relationships.