SUMMER GIRL by Deborah Moulton


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What looks like another kid-with-problem-parents-goes-through-summer-of-change book turns out to be a sensitive picture of a girl countering disruption and death with personal growth. While her mother is dying of cancer, Tommy is sent to stay with her estranged father (Jud) in Maine. Prickly, unfriendly, and critical, Tommy resents her obnoxious aunt (a nurse, who banished her), the harbor town, and Jud, whose home is an untidy shambles and whom she blames for her parents' split. Still, she cleans up the house, accepts a job, and tries to sound upbeat in letters home. In return, her mother writes about her marriage and Tommy's birth, in installments that parallel the present: she too was a ""summer girl"" who got involved with a ""local."" There the semblance ends: dumping Tommy's father for another man, her mother left Jud so stricken that he barely survived. Though some of the events here are melodramatic, their handling is subtle. Assimilating her mother's revelations and learning to cope with her new life, Tommy grows in understanding; while her immediate reaction to the past's betrayals is never explicitly portrayed, her rages against her father are believable, as are his fumbling but ultimately successful efforts to make a home for the 13-year-old daughter he has always loved from afar. Like Jean Thesman's novels, an engrossing read that offers strong characters and real values.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1992
Page count: 133pp
Publisher: Dial