The Secret Summer Promise

Levine Querido. Jun. 2023. 336p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781646141739.
Gr 7-10–The summer after a serious surgery related to her cerebral palsy, Andrea is ready to complete an epic summer bucket list. As she begins to check off each item with her bestie Hailee, one major problem presents itself: Andrea realizes she’s actually in love with her best friend. Andrea fights her feelings until the crush she forces herself to have on a male classmate seems to shatter their friendship into pieces. Misunderstanding and miscommunication are at the heart of the conflict, pushing the plot forward quickly but frustratingly. With some help from supportive parents and an extensive friend group, the two girls come together as a sweet love story unfolds. Though the girls are 17, the dialogue and the motivations behind the friendship drama read much younger, making this a more relatable title for tween readers. Andrea’s disability is treated with care and honesty, often interrogating and inverting the harmful stereotypes readers may have come to expect from a disabled protagonist. Andrea is Black, Hailee is Chinese American, and their friend group is believably diverse.
VERDICT Young teens who want a lighthearted, queer, friends-to-lovers summer romp filled with authentic representation will find plenty to love in this debut.

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