Not Our Summer

Running Pr. May 2021. 288p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780762472291.
Gr 8 Up–Although they are cousins, high school seniors KJ and Becka, who are white, have been strangers most of their lives, until they meet again at their eccentric grandfather’s funeral and learn that they must fulfill his bucket list of adventures...together. The two have lived separate and very different lives as a result of a feud between their mothers, but their grandfather wanted them to be friends despite the rift, so he forces them to go on five exciting trips. All of the experiences were meticulously planned before his death, and the girls and their mothers will not receive their large inheritance unless they fulfill each one. As they ride mules to the bottom of Grand Canyon, hike through Yellowstone, whitewater raft in the Chattooga River, and scuba dive in Key West, the cousins reluctantly find that they have more in common than they thought. Their fondness for each other predictably grows, until they learn a shocking fact about their past that threatens to sabotage their trust. The girls’ distinct personalities are revealed through alternating first-person chapters, and letters that arrive from their grandfather throughout the summer disclose why he has gone to extraordinary lengths to reunite the girls. The descriptions of their experiences are enough to tempt a traveler, but they remain a backdrop against which the plot and characters evolve.
VERDICT Although there are many unanswered questions, this engaging debut packs authentic dialogue, strong personalities, and fabulous destinations into a heartwarming tale of family drama and personal growth.

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