Girls of July

Harper Teen. Jun. 2019. 480p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062447838.
Gr 8 Up–Four very different teenage girls form an unlikely friendship while vacationing together in the Adirondacks. Spider and her grandmother Ruthie rent out their vacation home’s extra rooms for the month of July via advertising on social media. The renters include Cuban American aspiring actress Britta, model student Meredith, and debutante politician’s daughter Kate. Each of the girls seems to feel stuck in her life. Spider, a cynical cinephile, has juvenile idiopathic arthritis and feels alienated by her siblings and peers. Britta wants to get away from her mom’s creepy boyfriend. Meredith feels pressured to be at the top of her class and get into an elite college, and she has been having panic attacks. Kate’s family is embroiled in a political scandal in their small Georgia town. All four girls are forever changed as they encourage one another to make the necessary changes to improve their lives. Perhaps the most charming story is Ruthie’s: Spider and Britta discover that she had a romantic relationship with another young woman decades ago, but they were driven apart by circumstances. Spider and Britta track down Ruthie’s lost love, and they reconnect. With pop culture, film, and music references, this story will resonate with teens, who are likely to see themselves in the characters.
VERDICT Flinn tackles tough subjects that elevate this beach read; a solid purchase for most libraries serving teens.

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