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A Million Miles from Boston Hardcover – April 5, 2011
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Publisher's Weekly, March 8, 2011:
"Day delivers a well-paced, realistic 'summer of change' story."
Booklist, March 15, 2011:
"Day captures childhood’s pain and hope deftly in this satisfying tale."
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, April 2011:
"There’s a solid, old-school feel to the story...and a gentleness to the timeless world of summer vacations, where kids pelt around together under minimal adult supervision...A classic summer-growth story."
School Library Journal, June 2011:
"Day has written a great book that deals with a variety of believable interpersonal relationships and transitions...[Lucy's] grief is thoughtfully interwoven throughout the story."
About the Author
Karen Day is the author of Tall Tales and No Cream Puffs. She grew up in Indiana and now lives in Newton, Massachusetts, with her husband and three children. Her love of reading, writing, and literature has taken her through careers in journalism and teaching. You can visit Karen at her Web site, KLDay.com.
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Lucy is leaving her home in the Boston area to spend the summer in the cozy beachfront community in Maine, about 100 miles away. Yet in Lucy's mind it could be a million miles away, a different emotional reality. It is in this community that she remembers her deceased mother, connects to her father and brother and feels continuity and comfort with this summer community that has known her family for generations.
In Maine, she can let her defenses down and be her true self or at least a version of her self that is less worried and concerned with the conformity demands that drive most middle schoolers. This is all threatened by the recent intrusion of her dad's new relationship with a woman named Julia and by the arrival of a popular, confused and cute boy from her school named Ian. In an awful coincidence his family bought one of the houses in HER summer community. The safety of her summer in Maine is threatened..not in a dramatic Hollywood way, but the way in which new realities subtly change our perceptions and views.
The summer becomes pivotal to Lucy as she emotionally returns to her memories of her mother who died 6 years ago. Day's book is not maudlin or saccharine sweet belaboring the details of the mother's passing. Rather through Day's rich dialogue the reader watches Lucy unconsciously understand or at least come to a bit more peace about what happened the summer of her mother's death. Lucy's voice is authentic and Day captures that amorphous non linear way kids process ideas and feelings. Ultimately Lucy is able to let go of painful feelings which allows her to open a piece of her heart to her dad's new girlfriend and to begin to understand Ian the boy from back home. There are no simple caricatures of mean girls, obnoxious boys or clueless parents. The tension is palpable as Lucy arrives at a more peaceful place in her own self. Isn't that what we want for our middle schoolers and for ourselves?
Lucy lives with her father and younger brother Bucky, anxiously awaiting their summer at their home in Pierson Point, Maine. Part of what Lucy enjoys about her summers is that things in Pierson Point don't change very often. Yet this summer, Lucy has a lot of changes she must deal with. First of all, she will be going to junior high in the fall and is a little worried about the new school environment. Then when she gets to Pierson Point she is greeted with the news that Ian a boy from her school who she has long had problems with, is also vacationing on Pierson Point with his family. And, her father's girlfriend is coming on weekends to visit them. This must mean that her dad is serious about his girlfriend, leaving Lucy to come to terms with her mom's death when she was six and what it means to move on with her life without forgetting her mom.
I loved the Maine setting - loved the feel of summer on an island where families come together each year to spend their leisure time. Day did such a great job with Lucy - making her a real person. I could see Lucy's struggle with Julia, her dad's girlfriend. And even though I didn't like how Lucy acted toward her father or Julia, I could understand it. I also liked how Lucy and Ian's relationship developed and how Lucy was able to change her opinion of Ian after she understood where he was coming from.
A Million Miles From Boston is another great example of Day's skill as a writer. My one regret is that I devoured this book on my vacation, finishing it off much too quickly.
The way she spends her days are different (in this case, running a day camp for the little kids in town). Her interactions with friends are different (Could she actually become friends with obnoxious classmate Ian, who is new to the summer community?), and at her summer home, she doesn't have to think about her dad's new girlfriend. The dog doesn't figure as prominently as in some of the other books in the post, so dog-lover or not, this book will be enjoyed by girls who like realistic fiction.