Old friends Ben, Cass, Jemmie and Justin start high school in the fall, so this might be their last summer together; though they hope for an exciting summer, they get more intrigue than they bargained for.
“Here’s the thing,” says Ben. “We’ve lived in this one place our whole lives. And nothing ever happens here.” But his little brother, Cody, just seven days shy of 7, finds an old fedora in the closet, and mystery and magic ensue. Cody wears the hat everywhere and claims it has powers: He actually hits shots in basketball, discovers an abandoned building in the woods and finds answers to family secrets. The abandoned building becomes the kids’ secret hideout, though secrets are hard to keep for Cody, who’s included in the older friends’ summer plans. The young teens know they’re changing, and the narrative, related in each of their voices, effectively dramatizes the complexities of friendships and budding romances. As some stretches are in the first-person and others are in the third, the shifting of points of view sometimes fragments the story and diffuses rising tensions. Still, the mystery of the abandoned building and its connections to Ben and Cody’s family will pull readers into the tale and hold them to the end.
A fine, complex tale of family, friends and magic. (Fiction. 10-14)