A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Readers will learn (as Abby does in the story) about two very different responses to the plight of Jewish children at the onset of World War II. They'll learn that in 1939, as Jews in Germany were being arrested and murdered, their synagogues destroyed, and businesses burned, the British Parliament passed a bill that would allow Jewish minors from Nazi-occupied countries into the England. As a result, a volunteer organization called Kindertransport brought 10,000 children under 17 to live with English families. But a similar bill in the U.S. Congress failed to pass. It was only through the efforts of an unofficial American Kindertransport that 1,000 children were brought to the U.S. and placed with Jewish foster families.
Keeping secrets causes damage. Healing can come when the truth is finally revealed.
Positive Role Models
Abby is smart, inquisitive, determined, and works hard at her summer job at the bookstore. She's always seen herself as the boring girl next door and party nights for Abby were generally sleepovers with friends featuring homemade brownie sundaes rather than alcohol. But this summer, she's decided "to screw following the rules"… but not too much. During the summer, Noah finds the courage to move past his parents' expectations for his future (joining the family business) and begin to follow his own path (possibly as a botanist).
Violence & Scariness
War, Nazi extermination of Jews, and the discloation of Jewish children are the backdrop of Abby's grandmother's storyline.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
There's a very brief but sometimes graphic sex scene between two teens ("I straddled him, and he let out a small goran as I settled on top"). A group of teens goes skinnydipping, and a girl loses her bikini bottom when she's swimming with a boy.
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Occasional strong language ("f--k," "damn," "a--hole," "s--t," "bitch").
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Products & Purchases
Consumer references are scattered throughout the novel, from books (The Golem and the Jinni, The Song of Achilles, Great Expectations, And Then There Were None, Rebecca, and Moby-Dick) to movies and TV shows (Jurassic Park, Downton Abbey, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel). Teens taking Uber.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens drink alcohol (beer, shots of Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey, rum) at parties and some get drunk. Abby doesn't like her first experiences with alcohol, but she keeps accepting drinks until she's offered rum and Coke, which she "really liked."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Hannah Reynold's The Summer of Lost Letters interweaves two romances (one contemporary and the other from decades past) with a mystery and a storyline about the rescue of Jewish children from Nazi Germany. When 17-year-old Abby Schoenberg opens a box of love letters between her recently deceased grandmother and a man named Edward, she has no idea of the long-buried secrets she'll uncover. After discovering that Edward is still alive and living on Nantucket, Abby moves to the island for the summer, gets a job at a local bookstore, and begins looking for clues about their romance. Along the way, she finds a romance of her own with Edward's grandson, Noah. Before the summer is over, Abby makes a life changing discovery about her grandmother's family, learns the truth about a missing necklace, and the real reason her grandmother's romance with Edward ended. There's a graphic but very brief sex scene between two teens and occasional strong language ("f--k,""damn," "s--t"). Teen characters drink and sometimes get drunk.
Is It Any Good?
This engaging summer romance deftly weaves together a decades-old mystery with a serious storyline about rescuing Jewish children from the Nazis. Readers more interested in romance than history shouldn't worry, as The Summer of Lost Letters offers not one but two love rocky affairs, beach parties under the stars with blazing bonfires, and handsome preppy heirs to old money fortunes. Abby's search for her grandmother's roots in Europe may inspire teens to investigate their own family history.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.