Everything feels different the summer Claire and her friends turn 12.
It’s weird enough that Brianna has moved to a fancy new house with a pool. But Brianna’s cousin Eden, who’s visiting for the summer, seems to be nudging them toward a level of sophistication, and Claire doesn’t understand the rules. Eden wears eyeliner! She friends boys on social media. And now, for the first time, Brianna’s birthday party is a boy-girl party. It’s not like Claire doesn’t know boys—she’s been tight with next-door neighbor Ronan in their trailer park for years! But he’s different, too. Suddenly he’s on social media trying to make his life look different—better—than it is. Trouble is, Claire didn’t know it was so bad! Claire’s voice is infectiously honest and optimistic as she navigates a host of new feelings, including uncertainly and jealousy. She’s observant; she also has down-to-earth, caring, and involved, if imperfect, parents. They help Claire understand what’s the matter with Ronan’s father and make her more open to hearing the concerns Brianna and Eden have. Their breakthrough conversation is a great recipe for all preteens developing their emotional intelligence. Claire and most of the cast are default white, but Eden, who is mixed, must explain why she looks different from Brianna on one occasion. Other cultures are indicated by surnames.
A fully wrapped-up, happy ending concludes both summer and book without compromising its emotional honesty. (Fiction. 9-12)