by Gae Polisner
Algonquin Young Readers
Available March 25, 2014
From the publisher's website:
“Polisner has a keen understanding of the suffering, maturing teen psyche; Frankie’s fragility and self-doubt are heartbreaking in their realism. … First-rate realistic fiction with plenty of heart.” —School Library Journal
“The prose is gentle but evocative, and Frankie Sky’s childlike exuberance and occasional misconceptions add heart and humor…[The Summer of Letting Go is] both hopeful and careful—like Francesca herself.” —Kirkus Review
“The characters of the story are all very well drawn, the dialogue realistic, and the story itself well written, with much for teens to think and talk about.”
“The Summer of Letting Go is haunting, heart-lifting, and impossible to put down...Francesca Schnell is one of the most authentic young adult characters I've read in a long time.” —A.S. King, author of Reality Boy, Ask the Passengers & Please Ignore Vera Dietz
“A beautiful story of heartbreak and hope.” —Daisy Whitney, author of The Mockingbirds and Starry Nights
The Summer of Letting Go looks like a sweet beach read, but don't let the cover confuse you. This novel isn't about bright sunshine, endless walks on the beach and idle hours frolicking in the surf. This novel is about grief and guilt, depression and agony, family and friendship, regret and redemption, and love and forgiveness.
Frankie's brother Simon drowned four years ago, and she blames herself. She should have been watching him more closely. She should have stayed by his side. Now he's dead and she's a tangle of grief, depression and heartbreak so palpable readers will weep for her. She suspects her father is having an illicit affair with their attractive neighbor and even follows the lady to the country club.
There she meets a little boy named Frankie Sky who looks like he could be Simon's twin. Everything about Frankie Sky reminds Frankie (the girl) of her brother Simon. When the boy's mother hires Frankie to babysit for him, she is worried about taking him to the pool or the beach.
Best friend Lisette is pulling away and spending more and more time with Frankie's secret crush Bradley, and Bradley keeps showing up and stealing kisses from his own girlfriend's best friend. Frankie knows she shouldn't kiss Bradley and betray her friend, but she acts with her heart not her head.
The Summer of Letting Go is a remarkable YA title. Polisner is able to create a character who is intelligent but deeply troubled. Frankie exudes grief but learns to see the world anew through the eyes of innocent Frankie Sky.
The ending seemed forced. I am not sure any girl would be as forgiving as Lisette. Her best friend and her boyfriend have been carrying on behind her back, yet she forgives all too quickly to be believable. The cover with a headless girl walking on the beach? Really, publishers, I am OVER headless bodies on covers. Show all of the girl (or boy) or don't show them at all.
Recommended grade 9-up. Possible marital affair, death, grief.
FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.
This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)