I could continue the awkward discussion from the previous post and tell you about the time I was doing my business in a lovely port-a-potty, but failed to lock the door properly resulting in it flying open in the hands of an older gentleman who mirrored my look of shock and confusion….but I’m not going to do that.
(It’s too embarrassing)
Instead, I want to tell you about the book: the summer i learned to fly by Dana Reinhardt
Notice the bright sunlight streaming in? Portland has finally achieved summer status, and in true Portland style people are complaining about the heat. You can include me in that ‘people.’ I moved away from Arizona to get away from the heat, but it just keeps following me.
But I digress.
The summer before her eighth grade year is finally here. Drew can finally spend countless hours working at her mom’s gourmet cheese shop alongside surfer dreamboat, Nick (she has a crush). Life is going according to plan: work at cheese shop, spend as much time as possible with Nick, hang out with mom, smuggle pet rat in backpack wherever she goes, and read the newly discovered book of lists written by her deceased dad. However, predictability goes out the window when the rat gets away and is found by mysterious Emmett Crane. Apparently Emmett can communicate with rats, hangs out by the back of the cheese shop to eat the cheese scraps, and is reticent to talk about his past. Nevertheless, Drew is drawn to him and wants to be his friend. Their friendship evolves over picnics, trips to the beach, and paper crane notes. Drew finally finds out that Emmett is on a mission to find a magical hot spring, and even though it means running away from home, Drew decides to opt in for the adventure. What they end up finding is more than just a hot spring… they find healing from emotional wounds of the past.
Here’s the deal: Dana Reinhardt writes like I think, so that made this reading experience extremely enjoyable for me. It was effortless to read while still retaining my interest and investment in the story; however, the whole book feels like waiting. What I mean is that the bulk of the story is about the slow (not too slow because the book is only 216 pages) evolution of Emmett and Drew’s friendship. The adventure of Drew and Emmett leaving to go find the hot spring only takes up the last 50 pages or so, and I was a little disappointed by that. It felt like the adventure was over as quickly as it began. Then again, I don’t this book is intended to be a rip-roarin’ adventure. I think it is much more about the relationships of the characters rather than the action or suspense.
Speaking of characters, the epilogue wrapped everything and everyone up so nicely…maybe a little too nicely? Is it helpful to a young adult’s sense of reality to have books (and TV episodes) wrapped up neatly by the end? Granted, this question doesn’t really have a foothold in the whole fantasy/science fiction genre, but when the book is realistic fiction should it be just that, realistic?
I really did like this book. I loved that Drew sacrificed something precious in order to help Emmett find healing and I love the strong themes of friendship, parental love, and sacrifice. Plus, after my short-lived beach vacation this summer I am in favor of any book that puts me back on the coast.