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Summerlost Hardcover – March 29, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—A year after the accident that killed Cedar Lee's father and younger brother, her family still feels freshly broken. Her mother moves the remainder of the family out to her hometown of Iron Creek for the summer. Cedar's mom throws herself into fixing up their new house, leaving Cedar and her younger brother Miles to explore the area on their own. Cedar can't shake her grief, especially when small trinkets that remind her of her brother Ben start appearing on her windowsill. Then Cedar notices that a strangely dressed boy rides by her house on his bike at the same time every day. She follows the boy and winds up with a new friend and a job at the Summerlost theater festival. As she dives into an old town mystery with Leo, she feels her heart slowly start to heal. Condie focuses mainly on Cedar's healing. Miles and her mother are present, and their journey through grief is certainly evident, but more care is given to Cedar and the development of her new relationships through the theater program. Leo is a vibrant secondary character, as are some of the other charming folks Cedar meets throughout her stay in Iron Creek. Have this on hand for readers who enjoy a sweet, heartfelt story. VERDICT A first purchase for middle grade collections, particularly where realistic fiction and coming-of-age stories are in demand.—Carli Worthman, Carmel Middle School, Carmel, IN
★ "Condie is at her best . . . grabbing readers’ interest from the first page." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
"A nuanced portrait of grief deeply grounded in the middle-school mind-set." —Booklist
"Honest, lovely, and sad." —Kirkus Reviews
★ "Thoughtful, poetic chapter endings guide readers new to psychological depth toward meaningful connections between plot events and thematic reflections." —BCCB, starred review
"Tender, insightful . . . generous and bittersweet, Summerlost has the emotional acuity of Ms. Condie’s writing for older teenagers, but it’s pitched just right for readers ages 10-14." —The Wall Street Journal
Praise for Ally Condie’s Atlantia:
“Utterly captivating. A heroine unlike any I’d met before, a setting I’d never glimpsed, a story I’d never imagined. Atlantia is fresh, wild, and engrossing. I love Ally Condie.” —Shannon Hale, award-winning, bestselling author of Austenland and Dangerous
“A gorgeous, crumbling underwater world, a murder mystery, a sweet romance, a sinister plot, long-protected secrets… they’re all here! But what made us love this new stand-alone from talented Ally Condie? Rio. She’s a strong, brave, self-sacrificing heroine who never gives up.” —Justine Magazine
“Condie brings tremendous depth to her world-building, finding terrific details in a culture created both to help people survive, and to perhaps keep them under control.” —Salt Lake City Weekly
"A fast-paced fantasy adventure tale in a richly drawn dystopian future . . . this is a title that’s sure to be immensely popular with teens." —School Library Journal
“Each mystery leads into another, and Condie keeps readers guessing to the end.” —Shelf Awareness
Praise for the International bestselling Matched trilogy:
"This futuristic fable of love and free will asks: Can there be freedom without choice? The tale of Cassia's journey from acceptance to rebellion will draw you in and leave you wanting more." —Cassandra Clare, New York Times-bestselling author of The Infernal Devices and The Mortal Instruments series
"A superb dystopian romance." —The Wall Street Journal
"The hottest YA title to hit bookstores since The Hunger Games." —Entertainment Weekly
"A fierce, unforgettable page-turner." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Condie's enthralling and twisty dystopian plot is well served by her intriguing characters and fine writing. . . . Cassia's metamorphosis is gripping and satisfying." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Condie’s prose is immediate and unadorned, with sudden pings of lush lyricism [and] reveals seeming to arrive on almost every page." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Distinct . . . authentic . . . poetic." —School Library Journal
"Love triangle + struggle against the powers that be = perfect escape." —MTV.com
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Top Customer Reviews
Cedar is undergoing the grief of having lost her father and brother to a drunk driver. Her mother, in her own grief, moves the remaining family and takes on home improvement projects. Meanwhile, Leo, a boy Cedar has seen going by the house on a bike while wearing weird clothing, has a burning desire to be an actor, and is financing his dream of going to London by giving tours about the life of a famous actor who might have been murdered on the site of the Ren Faire. There are little references to autism and being multi racial.
The above paragraph is a terrible description. If I tried to write it, this would be so much muddle. In Ally Condie's hands, this is a sweet and affecting story about loss, healing, and ambition.
AND IT IS NOT A ROMANCE. I can't even tell you how many good stories have been ruined by some gratuitous, out of character romance in the last chapter.
I would count down the days to discuss this with the group. I'd spend a lot of time in the candy aisle picking up Cedar's favorite candies to serve, or trying my hand at making lemon and raspberry tarts she eats at the Festival. I'd hang twinkly lights in the trees, spread blankets on the grass and stack thick copies of Shakespeare's plays (hoping to entice younger readers to become familiar with one of my favorite authors). I'd hand out Mason jars before we met and ask each person to fill it up with things that remind them of someone they have love. I might even try to make a few Lisette Chamberlain Tour t-shirts and "Times of Our Seasons" Soap Opera Posters.
I'd choose Summerlost as our pick, not only because is it an engaging story of a summer spent exploring a new town and working at a Shakespeare Festival, but it is novel that explores the emotions that accompany grief and fear, and also friendship and family love. What a gift for middle age readers to have a companion if they themselves are experiencing those emotions, or a story to introduce readers to those themes if they have not experienced them yet themselves. Condie's poetic writing is moving, but also filled with humor and heartbreak in just the right doses. I have yet to read a book by Condie that hasn't grown in significance to me long after I close the cover. I finished this weeks ago and yet in quiet moments I'll come back in my mind to favorite parts or themes that build and connect for me. Brilliant.
Cedar and Leo and their stories (and friends and families) will live much longer than just the space of one summer. I would highly recommend this as a TOP 2016 PICK.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It was all handled very well in the talented hands of Author Ally Condie.