Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A million miles from Boston by Karen Day

As I'm working with unbounded determination down to the bottom of my to read/to review pile, I pulled up the last of a stack of "growing up experiences at the beach" summer reads I picked up at ALA Midwinter 2011. (Others include Lexie and Junonia, in case you were wondering).

I skimmed this at the time I got it and enjoyed the bits I read, but I only now finally had the time to give it the thorough reading it deserved.

Lucy can't wait to get to Pierson Point, Maine, where her family spends the summer. She's worried about middle school, where she'll be a seventh grader, tired of dealing with annoying Ian, and best of all her dad's new girlfriend Julia won't be around. Lucy still grieves for her mother, who died six years ago, and Julia is starting to feel way too permanent.

As in her previous middle grade fiction title, Tall Tales, Karen Day writes with realism, warmth, and hope, showing a family dealing with difficult issues but working together to grow stronger. The theme throughout this story is change; Lucy has trouble dealing with changes and desperately wants to leave all her worries behind when she goes up to Maine for the summer, but they just follow her there and she can't ignore them. Even though she continually pushes her away, it's Julia who, in the end, helps Lucy deal with all the emotions and worries she's facing and become a stronger, more mature person.

Verdict: Not just a realistic, strongly written coming of age story, this is also just a great story with humor, tears, and a happy, hopeful ending. Kids who like good realistic fiction will enjoy this story all year round, although it will probably be easiest to book talk it as a beach read.

ISBN: 9780385738996; Published April 2011 by Wendy Lamb/Random House; ARC provided by publisher at ALA Midwinter; Purchased for the library (ARC donated to summer book giveaway)

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