Friday, July 1, 2011

YA Friday -- The Summer I Learned to Fly

The Summer I Learned to Fly by Dana Reinhardt (Wendy Lamb Books/Random House, July 12, 2011, for ages 12 and up, but I think a mature 10- or 11-year-old could handle it).

Source:  advanced reading copy from publisher.

Synopsis (from the publisher): Drew's a bit of a loner. She has a pet rat, her dead dad's Book of Lists, an encyclopedic knowledge of cheese from working at her mom's cheese shop, and a crush on Nick, the surf bum who works behind the counter. It's the summer before eighth grade and Drew's days seem like business as usual, until one night after closing time, when she meets a strange boy in the alley named Emmett Crane. Who he is, why he's there, where the cut on his cheek came from, and his bottomless knowledge of rats are all mysteries Drew will untangle as they are drawn closer together, and Drew enters into the first true friendship, and adventure, of her life.

Why I loved it:  If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that I love quiet books.  (If not, see this post about another one.)   Dana Reinhardt (How to Build a House, The Things a Brother Knows) is a master of the quiet, thought-provoking book.  Don't get me wrong.  Plenty of things happen to Drew, the 13-year-old protagonist of this novel, and to the people she loves.  There's an accident.  There's a long trip in the middle of the night.  There's even a leap off a cliff into water.  But if you're looking for an action-packed story with sword-fighting and superheroes a la Lightning Thief, you'll have to look elsewhere.  The Summer I Learned to Fly makes you think

It's also a lovely summer read because it's all about summer.  Drew rides her bike, goes to the beach, helps at her mother's gourmet cheese shop, and admires Nick, the 18-year-old surfer.  What draws her to Emmett, who is her own age, is, at first, the mystery of who he is and why he's in the alley.  Later, it's the origami cranes he gives her.   And later still, it's the quest he's saving up for, a quest to heal someone close to him.  Emmett becomes her first real friend and helps her take that leap toward independence, toward learning who she really is.  This is a book about friendship, but it's also a beautiful study of adolescence. 

What summer books can you recommend?


  1. You continue to increase the height of my To Be Read pile, Joanne! We share that affinity for the quiet books, I think. Thanks for adding to my list.

    So, is this a new regular feature for you? YA Fridays? Because if it is, I would love it if you could highlight some other quiet, or fun/light, YA titles. So many of the ones I know of deal with very dark or very serious topics, and while I learned much from them, I would love to read some more upbeat YA fare. Ideas?

  2. While it's not a YA read, THE LUCK OF THE BUTTONS which I reviewed for MMGM at the end of May is a summer book. It highlights a 1929 small town July 4th celebration and then travels on a few more weeks. I would classify it as a 'quiet book' also.

  3. Hi Kim! Thanks for stopping by.

    I would love to make it a new regular feature but not at the moment. Too much going on in my life right now.

    There is an awful lot of dark YA out there, it's true. Want upbeat or light and funny? Have you read GIMME A CALL by Sarah Mlynowski? It's hilarious. THE YEAR OF SECRET ASSIGNMENTS by Jaclyn Moriarty? DAIRY QUEEN by Catherine Gilbert Murdock?

    Yes, I remember you like quiet books. You were the one who suggested THAT GIRL, LUCY MOON to me and I loved it! Thanks.

  4. Hi Barbara,

    Yes I remember your review of that. It does sound like a great summer book. Thanks!

  5. Joanne and Barbara,

    ...and my reading list grows yet again!

    I knew I could count on Joanne and her readers for some great titles to look for :-)


I've disabled comments on this blog. I may be back at some time in the future, but for now, please visit my website:

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.