My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Publication Date: March 29th 2016
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Point of View: 1st Person & Feminine
Recommended Age: 8+
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Contemporary, Family, Friendship, Summer
It’s the first real summer since the devastating accident that killed Cedar’s father and younger brother, Ben. But now Cedar and what’s left of her family are returning to the town of Iron Creek for the summer. They’re just settling into their new house when a boy named Leo, dressed in costume, rides by on his bike. Intrigued, Cedar follows him to the renowned Summerlost theatre festival. Soon, she not only has a new friend in Leo and a job working concessions at the festival, she finds herself surrounded by mystery. The mystery of the tragic, too-short life of the Hollywood actress who haunts the halls of Summerlost. And the mystery of the strange gifts that keep appearing for Cedar.
Until I met Leo I hadn’t known you could understand someone so different from you so well.
Summerlost completely melted my heart.
I had decided to take a break from middle grade books for a while, but when I saw that Ally Condie wrote a new book – something different from what she is used to writing – I jumped on it. I am so glad I did.
This is not a love story between a boy and a girl. This is a story of family, trust, new beginnings and, most importantly, friendship. Cedar Lee lost her dad and her younger brother to a drunk driver. She is vulnerable. But then she meets Leo, who works at the Summerlost festival and decides to spend her summer in his company.
Leo’s dream is to travel to London with his dad and watch a theatre performance there. Cedar does not have a plan; all she can think about is the accident that killed her younger brother and dad. Working for the Summerlost festival helps her lighten her spirit and thoughts.
Cedar is introverted, unlike Leo. She continuously ponders matters. For a twelve-year-old, I found her quite mature, which is why I never had a problem with her narration. Sometimes her labelling people and critiquing them would trigger a frown out of me, but that was very rarely.
Summerlost is a short read. The chapters are not long and the story is fast-paced. I especially liked how balanced everything was: the dialogs, the descriptions and the ponderings. There is an equal amount of everything, which means that it never feels long or like there is something missing.
I do, however, think that it is a shame the secondary characters were not given more attention. Cedar and Leo’s families are both interesting ones, yet we barely see them, aside from Cedar’s other young brother, Miles. It is really about Cedar and Leo.
What I like most about this book is the setting. The Summerlost theatre festival is an interesting place full of action. Sometimes, I would read about it and feel as if I was almost there myself. When an author manages to do that to the reader, you know it is a good book. The characters even find a mystery case related to it.
It is full of surprises – that is the best way to describe this book. You never read about the same things twice: every time, there is something new to the story, a new element added to make things spicier and make the reader want to know more.