Saturday, December 24, 2011

Book Review: The Summer I Learned to Fly by Dana Reinhardt

goodreads summary: 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.

my review: A well-written coming-of-age story, Dana Reinhardt crafts a vivid first-person point of view story that delves into the interworks of friendships between mother and daughter and boy and girl. I liked her offbeat personality, accentuated by her pet rat, Hum, her clothing choices, and the family cheese shop.

What I was most looking forward to while reading the book was the deceased father’s Book of Lists. It’s an unusual way to learn about Drew’s father while creating an interesting plot point, but I was a bit irked that there wasn’t any conclusion to it at the end of the book. I think a confrontation between Birdie and her mother about the Book would’ve worked made the ending much more powerful.

I was immediately captured with the writing style. It wasn’t until toward the end when she and Emmett sneak away to the legendary spring that it became less believable to me. The fact that Swoozie (her mother’s friend) wouldn’t have noticed her missing while she was babysitting and the fact that Emmett was a runaway child placing so much emphasis on a legendary spring was a bit much for me. Emmett’s backstory was great, but the fact that his mother wouldn’t have looked for him and the fact that it seemed too good to be true took me out of the story.

Then, the epilogue really killed it for me. How could Drew not want to talk to Emmett after the incident at the spring? Why hadn’t Emmett contacted her after that point?

Overall, I give the book a 3/5. The writing is what saved it for me, but there needed to be a stronger ending.

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