Thursday, September 15, 2011

Tween/Teen Pick: The Summer Before Boys

The Summer Before Boys
by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Simon & Schuster
208 pages

Moving, poignant, and simple, yet satisfying and sublime, The Summer Before Boys is a novel about relationships--childhood friendship, mother/daughter relationships, strained relationships, and adolescent relationships.

Two girls are ready to leave childhood behind but worry that boys will ruin their long childhood friendhip--a true friendship where they promised to be "friends forever." Eliza and Julia spend long summers on the mountain, swimming and hiking, playing with dolls, slipping into the Mohawk Hotel, and gossiping with Pam, the gift shop lady who secretly slips them ice cream, telling them it's her treat "just this once." The summers seen to last forever, and the girls are inseparable.

Julia's mother signed up for the National Guard thinking that the extra money would be great and that a few week-ends away was just like going to summer camp. This all changes when she's called up for a tour in Afghanistan, and Julia is terrified her mother may never come home. When people tell her what a hero her mother is and how brave and patriotic she is and how proud she should be of her mom, she doesn't feel any of that. She just wants her mother and alive. Julia's father works long hours and never seems to be around for her.

The summer she is twelve, Julia has her first crush; she spends hours daydreaming and writing Micheal's name in her diary, and Eliza feels left behind. The two "friends forever" have a major falling out that may be unfixable.

Sometimes wars take more than human lives. Simply because the soldier comes home "unharmed" doesn't mean she is the same person. On the last day of being twelve, Julia and her mother play make believe in the attic with her mother's old Cabbage Patch dolls, and life seems good.

Recommended for tweens and teens grades 5-9. This novel will resonate with those readers who have a parent who is deployed.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

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