Two young cousins try to recapture the feeling of summertime fun during a fraught vacation at their family’s lake house, a summer overshadowed by the mystery of their uncle’s long-ago death.
Cousins Holly Swanson and Ivy Greenwood have very different personalities, but that has never mattered before. During the summers, they’ve always been inseparable. But this summer of 1965, with Ivy’s parents fighting more than ever and Holly showing interest in local boys, they can’t seem to find any common ground. It doesn’t help that tensions are running high among other family members. Uncle Jesse may have died many years ago, but guilt, sadness and shame still surround the accident. Mixing diary entries and letters into the narrative, Gordon delivers a sweet albeit convenient story about familial rupture and healing. The cast of characters is well-imagined, and the plot is infused with the inevitable repercussions of history, both immediate and those of a more global nature. However, events are repeatedly too advantageous to be ultimately satisfying. Hidden diaries, letters and pictures are discovered with alarming regularity. Perhaps acknowledging this narrative ease, the publisher recommends this book for ages 8-12, but the girls’ dawning understanding of the complex world of adulthood pushes it a little older.
A story about a tumultuous family that lacks a certain element of hardship needed to make a book truly gripping. (Fiction. 10-14)