Summer and July

HarperCollins/Harper. Jun. 2020. 320p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062849366.
Gr 4-6–Midwesterner Julliet is spending the month of July in Santa Monica. Her name means July in French, which is ironic because Julliet is not feeling this month. Mom challenges Julliet to get more exercise and fresh air, to confront her fears, and to go outside her comfort zone. It’s hard without Dad, who left with a younger woman, and her best friend Fern, with whom Julliet spent most of her free time, dressed like goths at the mall, talking about the end of the world, and honing her many fears. Summer, who quickly befriends Julliet, introduces her to beach and surf culture, christening her “Betty” (surf lingo for an attractive beach babe). Summer’s optimistic company enables Betty to confront her many fears. Summer’s patient teaching helps Betty learn to take care of the beach, to bravely skateboard the boardwalk, and to catch a wave. Summer’s thoughtful prodding allows Betty to confront her losses and the darkness Fern represents. Betty adds “help Summer like she has helped me” to her growing list of goals as their closeness evolves into something more. Mosier transforms Julliet’s initially unconvincing goth disaffection into an authentic, grounded presence through thoughtful descriptions and transformative experiences.
VERDICT This beachy bildungsroman grows into its substance but rings a bit hollow in the end. Purchase where stories of friendship and transformation are popular.

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