Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Summer Before Boys by Nora Raleigh Baskin

Book Jacket

Julia and Eliza are family, but they're also best friends.

They share everything, and now that Julia's mom has gone overseas to serve with the National Guard, Julia is going to spend the summer living with Eliza and her parents.

If the situation were different, Julia would be thrilled--but she's distracted with worries about her mother.  On top of that, Julia meets the boy she decides she wants to be her first kiss.  For the first time in their friendship, Julia and her thoughts are traveling to a place that Eliza can't follow.  And Eliza discovers that it's not any easier to be the one left behind.

In her follow-up to the award-winning Anything But Typical, Nora Raleigh Baskin has written a powerful, touching story about the summer that will change two best friends' lives forever. 


I'm pretty sure this book is best read by adults reminicsing about that awkward age when you alternate between glorying in make-believe and being crippled by your growing self-awareness.  The Summer Before Boys is a lovely novel with absolutely beautiful prose.  Whether teens will get into it?  I don't know.

I did like that a large part of the story focuses on Julia's mixed emotions about her mother's involvment in the military service.  I haven't read many stories about kids in that situation, so it was pretty eye-opening to me.  I rarely even remember that there's a war on in our country, but of course children of men and women serving in Iraq and/or Afghanistan cannot forget that fact.

Also?  This book made me really sad that summer is over.  I wanted to run along hiking trails with Julia and Eliza, getting sticky with sweat and cooling off with an ice cream bar.  I wanted to have sleepovers with friends, go to outdoor movies, and jump in a lake.  Basically, I want to be 12 again, which is something I never thought I'd say.

My main problem with the book is a pretty massive misdirect that....I think was a lie?  I don't know, but I don't like being tricked by a book.  A mystery, sure.  But if you tell me something as if it's a fact and then that thing doesn't happen?  I don't approve.  Still, I've got to give it

Four out of five niece/cousins

Release Date: May 2011
Reading Level: Grade 3+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection: YPL BAS

Don't believe me?  Check out these reviews of The Summer Before Boys:

Books With Bite
YA Librarian Tales

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