SUMMER BEGINS by Sandra F. Asher


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Like Kate in Miles' Maudie and Me and the Dirty Book (p. 780, J-192), eighth-grader Summer Smith comes to her role as free-speech champion reluctantly. The flak begins when she writes a school-paper editorial suggesting that the University school's tradition-bound Christmas program be broadened to include the songs of other religions. The Jewish mother whose overheard complaints had started Summer thinking berates her for stirring up latent prejudice; the school principal, worried about the reaction of a trustee whose ancestors had founded the school and the program, demands that Summer apologize for insulting the tradition; her English teacher, also school-paper advisor, resigns in protest against the principal's position; the publicity wins Summer the admiring attention of popular high school senior Rod Whitman--until his girlfriend puts an end to his heart-to-heart visits with Summer; and her own parents are divided on the issue. Her English-professor father is delighted with her stand, but the fracas, plus Summer's emergence as a focus of attention, touches off a midlife crisis in her beautiful mother, a former Olympic swimmer who can't accept that it's time to move over. As the story develops, standing up for freedom at school gives Summer the confidence to stand up to her mother. It's no full-bodied novel, but despite some stereotyped descriptions of the weeping menopause woman, Asher's smooth integration of the home and school fronts, plus a subplot showing big-wheel Rod's contrasting lack of courage, give this a little more dimension than the Miles entry.

Pub Date: June 14th, 1980
Publisher: Elsevier/Nelson