It’s the last day of school for thirteen-year-old Leah, who lives with her mom and dad in Ormewood Park, a suburb of Atlanta where neighbors frequently gather together for cookouts and observe community traditions that date back years and years. As the final bell rings she heads out with her best friend Tess and others to share a celebratory banana split at Morelli’s, the ice cream shop that is a popular gathering spot. Leah doesn’t feel much like celebrating. In fact, all year long she hasn’t felt like the person she was before her brother’s death at camp the summer before. There is an awkwardness between her and her friends that none of them seem able to overcome, so much so that when Leah and Tess part at their homes afterwards, both seem to acknowledge the end of their friendship as they have known it.
At home Leah’s parents don’t know how to handle their son Sam’s absence. Her parents and she have polite but superficial conversations and all of them move in separate orbits. As they suddenly realize that Leah’s summer stretches before her with no camp plans or any other scheduled activities, they discuss options but finally agree to let her stay home alone. At first, Leah is quite pleased, but as days pass she grows bored with being alone and begins to explore parts of Atlanta, leading her to stumble across a new girl in town, Jasper, who is fun and friendly and also mysterious. As their friendship develops, Leah learns important things about herself such as taking responsibility for her actions towards others, speaking the truth instead of saying what is expected to please or satisfy others, being positive and proactive in managing difficult relationships and making hard decisions about keeping or breaking promises.
This well-written, thoughtful book should appeal to readers of all ages, offering lessons on relationship building and maintenance, resolution of misunderstandings, etc. etc. There’s nothing objectionable language-wise except for one “ass” and a couple of “dammits.” Domestic violence is referenced, as well as a perceived threat from a gun-packing, tattooed homeless guy lurking around Jasper’s house.
Buy this one.
Categories: Books We Recommend, Books with No Objectionable Content, Death and Grieving, Depression, Dysfunctional Relationships, Grief, Mysteries, Navigating through Middle School, Parent Conflict, Peer Relationships, Summer Camps