From School Library Journal
Grade 5–8—This thoughtful coming-of-age novel, set sometime in the past in a world of privilege, tells the story of a pivotal time in the life of 12-year-old Cecile. Her family is once again spending the summer on tiny Gull Island at her grandfather's manor-like residence, and she's looking forward to swimming and soaking up the rays with her older sister. Unfortunately, Natalie, 14, has other plans that mostly involve locking lips with William, an "Interloper" who is vacationing on the island with his family. Despite Cecile's continued protests that she will never become obsessed with boys and appearances like Natalie, she finds herself facing changes as she buys her first bra, attends a dance at the club, and longs to catch the attention of a particular young man. Cecile is a likable and sympathetic individual who wants things to go back to the way they were last year, before her parents were fighting and puberty took her sister away. Readers on the verge of crossing the line between childhood and adolescence will relate to her internal struggles. In the end, Cecile realizes that while she cannot stop herself from growing up, she can do so at her own pace and in her own way, not necessarily following in Natalie's footsteps. The well-written book introduces a memorable main character.—Robyn Zaneski, New York Public Library
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With Cecile’s parents at odds, the annual family summer vacation by the sea seems more important than ever this year. Yet with her 14-year-old sister Natalie distracted by thoughts of boys, their time together on Gull Island is distinctly less satisfying. Though just two years younger, Cecile is fundamentally different from her sister and finds herself bemused by Natalie’s shifting interests and hurt by her occasional cruelty. After a rocky summer of observations and experiences, Cecile, poised on the verge of adolescence and reluctant to leave her childhood behind, finds a way to take a small step forward without compromising her strong sense of self. Greene’s prose can be very fine, notably in the use of metaphors—she describes Natalie as “all pins and needles; Cecile was her favorite pincushion”—but something about the writing suggests an adult audience rather than a younger one. Still, kids will recognize aspects of themselves in the beautifully nuanced story of Cecile. Grades 5-8. --Carolyn Phelan