Author: Ally Condie
Age & Genre: MG (10+) –
Publisher: Dutton / Penguin Random House
Release Date: March 29th 2016
Where to Buy: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | Book Depository
My Rating: 3/5 stars
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
It’s the first real summer since the devastating accident that killed Cedar’s father and younger brother, Ben. But now Cedar and what’s left of her family are returning to the town of Iron Creek for the summer. They’re just settling into their new house when a boy named Leo, dressed in costume, rides by on his bike. Intrigued, Cedar follows him to the renowned Summerlost theatre festival. Soon, she not only has a new friend in Leo and a job working concessions at the festival, she finds herself surrounded by mystery. The mystery of the tragic, too-short life of the Hollywood actress who haunts the halls of Summerlost. And the mystery of the strange gifts that keep appearing for Cedar.
Summerlost is a solid three star book for me. I really enjoyed the story and I think it is a great middle grade novel, but it didn’t soar above similar books that I’ve read.
I liked the characters and the overall theme of the book. Books with characters coping with death are necessary because it is an inevitable experience and any grieving reader would find some solace in Cedar’s story. Cedar and Leo are perfect compliments for each other and have such a great friendship. I was really happy with how their friendship grew and their interactions seemed authentic.
I also really liked the setting of the festival and the small town feel of the story. It was easy for me to relate to being from a small town and an area that has many little festivals. The story felt very nostalgic for me. There were some good little twists and quirks in the story to keep the reader interested as well.
What I wasn’t a huge fan of was the writing. It was wordy at times and then very short at other times. I found myself skipping to the dialogue quite a bit. I didn’t like how some chapters were several pages and others were only one page, it was a bit odd because I don’t think the story really needed to be like that. It did break up the flow but it seemed pretty random.
Now, though this book didn’t knock my socks off I do really like it overall and would recommend it to middle school aged kids. This book would be so much more enjoyable for its intended audience. I can agree with Brandon Mull when he says Summerlost is “a moving tale of friendship and loss”. I can also agree with other descriptors such as honest, lovely, sweet, nostalgic, and heartfelt. This story is all of those things and it does accomplish was Ally set out to write, a story that reminds us of our own experiences with family and loss and the power of friendship.