Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Summerlost, Ally Condie

Ally Condie's newest book, also the first one (I believe) for middle readers. Cedar Lee has recently lost her father and brother in a drunk driving car crash incident. It's just her, her mom and her younger brother Miles. They go to this small town with a really big Shakespeare Festival and she befriends a local boy, Leo, who helps her get a job selling concessions at the festival and they embark on some other money making ventures.

The chapters are really super short, which I think makes it good for younger readers who may have trouble with longer chapters.

You never know exactly what was wrong with Cedar's brother Ben, but all the signs pointed to autism spectrum disorder. Cedar is very conflicted about how fiercely she loved him, but how it was sometimes hard to be around him. I think a lot of people who live with others who are 'different' have this conflicted feeling. I know I did growing up with a sister who is 'different'. I wasn't sure how to explain it, didn't know if I even NEEDED to explain it. I remember one time my sister went to a summer camp at BYU and my mom had asked another girl if she would be my sister's roommate. I don't remember if she agreed or not, but it ended up not happening and somehow I ended up finding out that this girl didn't want to be "held back" from meeting new people and having certain experiences by needing to be my sister's roommate for the week. I was torn between understanding how she felt and not blaming her and being angry at her for being selfish. I never confronted her about it. But it always bothered me. Partially because I wasn't sure what I would have chosen if I had been in her shoes, and I hated that I wasn't more firm in the idea that I'd be the one to help the person.

Anyhow, there's also a little mystery in this story. Lisette Chamberlain is a late actress who got her start at the Shakespeare Festival and was also the first local to get a lead role. She went on to become a successful soap opera actress. Leo knows EVERYTHING about Lisette and he decides for extra money, they'll secretly give tours about her in the early morning.

There's dealings with bullies, grief, getting in trouble (Cedar and Miles watch this horrible soap opera they get sucked into because one of the characters gets buried alive and the person who got her buried sends food down in a tube and communicates with her-but they never reveal how she goes to the bathroom down there), and true friendship. At the end they wonder if they "like" like each other, but really it comes down that "you're my person" the friend who gets you, who understands you, who can compliment your appearance but not have a crush on you. It was an enjoyable read, just a little slow for me.

4 stars.

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