Monday, May 30, 2011

The Summer Before Boys

The Summer Before Boys by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2011
196 pages
MG; Contemporary
3/5 stars

Source: Received a free e-galley via Simon & Schuster's GalleyGrab in exchange for an honest review.

Why haven't I read any other books with the main character's parent deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan? I prefer contemporary YA and yet I don't think I've read any other books that touch on this war. Any recommendations?

Anyway Julia and Eliza are best friends and family.  While Julia's mother is deployed overseas, Julia is spending her summers with Eliza.  Both girls are twelve and share many similar interests.  But Julia's interest in a boy and fears for her mother disrupt their usual harmony.

I enjoyed following the story but there didn't seem to be a main conflict or point to the story.  It's not entirely in chronological order as Julia would narrate something and then go back in time to explain the events.  She's a pretty mature twelve-year-old and the two girls have a fun friendship.  They liked to pretend the lived in the olden days, although the shifts to accommodate that perspective were awkward.  The boy who Julia likes isn't very well-defined and the other characters don't have much personality either.

The other side of the story is Julia's anxiety over her mother's tour.  Throughout the book, information about women serving in war are included, focusing on the deaths as Julia fears that most of all.  She also shares these fears with a boy from her school Peter, whose dad is also serving.  I liked their scenes.

Overall: A sweet meandering story of pre-adolescence.

Cover: The girls should probably be wearing shorts given that they are summering in humid New York state but it's okay.


  1. First-time the polka dots.

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  2. I don't normally pick up books with pre-adolescent kids, unless it's a mystery or a suspense story. However, I do like the sound of this one. Julia sounds like a very endearing character and I have to say that the cover is lovely. I love the summer-y golden atmosphere.


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