A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Summerlost follows a 12-year-old girl's first summer after her father and young brother were killed by a drunk driver. Wistfulness permeates the novel, including a boy's wish to connect with his emotionally distant father, an obsession with the life and early death of an admired actress, and a girl's struggle to find her footing after learning that nothing is ever certain. Ally Condie (Matched) writes with an understated narrative style, making the grief particularly heartrending and palpable. Middle-grade characters are given considerable responsibility and independence -- they sometimes deceive their parents about their activities, but they don't get into serious trouble and are held accountable.
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What's the story?
It's been a year since Cedar Lee's father and her young brother, Ben, died in a car accident. Her broken family is spending the summer in her mother's Utah hometown, where Cedar meets a new friend, Leo, and lands a job working at the Summerlost theater festival. Leo loves theater and is fascinated by local legend Lisette Chamberlain, an actress who died mysteriously years ago. Cedar is drawn into the drama of Lisette's life, helping Leo conduct tours for Lisette's fans. As she learns more about Lisette and how her remarkable life and tragic death hauntingly linger for the town and her admirers, Cedar grapples with how the aching loss of her father and brother will color the rest of her days.
Is it any good?
This beautifully told story of a girl struggling to find normalcy after the horrific loss of her father and brother sneaks up on you, hooking you with its blend of heartbreak, healing, and hope. SUMMERLOST is a pitch-perfect offering from Ally Condie, best known for the fantasy Matched trilogy. Anyone who's dealt with loss -- whether the death of a loved one or a parting of ways with a friend -- will relate to Cedar's difficulty reconciling her past with her future. She struggles with regret, guilt, and fear, with her faith in the everyday badly shaken.
Cedar is haunted not only by what she loved and misses about her father and brother but by what she didn't get a chance to know and will never be able to understand. Gently written but emotionally searing, this honest, quiet novel is a good starting point for conversations about life, death, and the mark we leave on those around us.
Talk to your kids about ...
- Author: Ally Condie
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Dutton Children's Books
- Publication date: March 29, 2016
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 14
- Number of pages: 272
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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