Twelve-year-old Missy narrates a summer full of tumultuous change, from her first job to her father’s remarriage.
Together, Missy and brother Patrick, almost 14, have weathered their parents’ two-year separation. (Brother Claude, nearly 3, doesn’t remember life before the Parenting Plan.) Missy’s two best friends head off to camp—too costly an option for her family. Patrick, intent on remaking his skinny-guy image with new school clothes, spies an ad for blueberry-picking jobs for kids. After persuading each parent, the siblings begin several life-changing weeks at a nearby farm. Missy becomes an expert picker, while Patrick becomes smitten with Shauna; their growing romance between the rows infuriates Missy. Shrouded by a towering hedge and some heavily foreshadowed mystery, the farm, owned by taciturn Moose and wife Bev, has long been divided in two—Moose’s estranged brother farms next door. This subplot—in which Missy discovers the secret of the brothers’ enmity—is the novel’s weak element, relying for its advance on implausibly candid confidences that Moose, Bev, and field boss Al share with Missy. It’s Missy’s feisty, utterly believable narration that shines through here. As friends change and her family morphs again, Missy, with her mother’s subtle guidance, gradually accepts the inevitable with a newly emerging grace.
Heart-rendingly unflagging in the face of life-changing events, Missy’s a funny, compelling heroine that readers will cheer for. (Fiction. 10-13)