Dutton Books for Young Readers, 2016
Audience: Children, Younger Teens
It's the first real summer since the devastating accident that killed Cedar's father and younger brother, Ben. But now Cedar and what’s left of her family are returning to the town of Iron Creek for the summer. They’re just settling into their new house when a boy named Leo, dressed in costume, rides by on his bike. Intrigued, Cedar follows him to the renowned Summerlost theatre festival. Soon, she not only has a new friend in Leo and a job working concessions at the festival, she finds herself surrounded by mystery. The mystery of the tragic, too-short life of the Hollywood actress who haunts the halls of Summerlost. And the mystery of the strange gifts that keep appearing for Cedar.
Infused with emotion and rich with understanding, Summerlost is the touching middle grade debut from Ally Condie, the international bestselling author of the Matched series, that highlights the strength of family and personal resilience in the face of tragedy.
My favorite thing about Summerlost was the subtleness of the grief that Cedar experienced. Most books for children and teens take place immediately after their loss, when it hits them the hardest. However, in Summerlost, it was about a year after Cedar’s losses. The writing was not overpowering or gut-wrenching, but instead brought up the grief when Cedar felt it - sometimes when the reader might not expect it. Also, I loved the quirky characters and the trouble they got into. The result was a lighthearted read that also managed to be understanding of hardship in a young person’s life.