This summer is not at all what 12-year-old Shayne had hoped for.
Shayne loves summering with her loving grandparents in their quaint lobstering town in Maine. She relaxes with them and swims with her friend Poppy. This year is different. After Grandpa’s earlier death in a boating accident, her grandmother Bea needs Shayne’s help preparing cascading piles of accumulated stuff to sell at the flea market. It quickly becomes evident that Bea is extremely reluctant to part with even the smallest, most tattered items, each of which to her embodies a story. With dismay and frustration, Shayne begins to realize that Bea’s pack-rat tendencies have grown to hoarder proportions. Then their already-stressed relationship crumbles when Shayne, behind Bea’s back, comes up with a plan to clear away the junk. Shayne also feels she’s lost her main ally, as Poppy has become increasingly interested in boys. Each chapter is headed with a cheerful, folksy adage such as, “Saltwater Cures All Wounds,” and the seemingly all-white town is populated with kind, eccentric residents, including Shayne’s newest friend, who is a costumed Civil War enthusiast. The challenges, however, presented with candor and naiveté in Shayne’s voice, are real and troubling. This intelligent exploration of the grandparent-grandchild relationship recognizes that within every person reside contradictions.
This absorbing middle-grade read gently but unflinchingly considers the common ground of growing up and growing old. (Fiction. 9-13)