SUMMER OF THE PIKE by Jutta Richter


by & illustrated by & translated by
Age Range: 14 & up
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This quiet, literary novel marks the auspicious American debut for Richter, an acclaimed writer for children and adults in her native Germany. Set on the wooded grounds of a castle and seen through the eyes of a young girl, Anna, it is a sensitive depiction of loss, friendship and family. Anna grew up with the estate’s tenants, Daniel and Lucas, and the three are as close as any siblings could be. At the same time, she’s disgusted by the boys’ fascination with catching a magnificent pike in the forbidden moat. This obsession takes on added significance as the boys’ mother slowly succumbs to cancer over the summer. Neither exploitative nor sanitized, this is a penetrating portrait of one of life’s most difficult and messiest passages. Anna’s mother—who is nursing the dying Gisela—drowns her sorrow in drink, cigarettes and tears. In the meantime, Anna must look on as the mother she finds emotionally distant provides the intimacy and comfort to the grieving boys that she longs for herself. While there’s some initial confusion about the identity of the characters and their relationships, the spare, continuous text has been smoothly translated. This smart, subtle and sympathetic offering will appeal to sophisticated teen readers, as well as their adult counterparts. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: Nov. 16th, 2006
ISBN: 1-57131-671-X
Page count: 132pp
Publisher: Milkweed
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2006