Thursday, May 31, 2012

Review: The Summer I Learned To Fly

Dana Reinhardt
Wendy Lamb Books
Thirteen-year-old Drew Robin Solo is a cautious girl living a careful life in the that consists mostly of helping out at her mother's cheese shop and crushing on Nick, the college-aged pasta-maker who works for her mother. Her friends from school aren't much to brag about and her true friends are her mother, Nick, Aunt Swoozie, and her pet rat (Hum, short for Humbolt Fog). This changes when she meets Emmett Crane, who writes her notes on paper cranes but whose past is  a mystery.

This is a short, meandering, emotionally powerful story that reminds me in many ways of Sara Zarr's Sweethearts or Haley Tanner's Vaclav & Lena; at its core it's about the intense and powerful friendship/budding-romance between a young girl and boy. The writing is simple, but effective and emotionally powerful. Drew's love for those around her -- the crush on Nick, her love for Swoozie and even for her mother, though their relationship is rapidly changing -- is the center of this book. I have a hard time discussing the plot because really, there's not one to speak of. This is a literary sort of book, and none of the events that happen are quite big enough to be considered the primary plot of the book, no matter how important they are.

The characters in this book are realistic and well-defined, with wonderfully realistic relationships between them. The fact that it takes place during the 1980s may be a problem for some readers, though I understand the reasons Reinhardt may have made that choice and it didn't hinder my own reading enjoyment. The Summer I Learned To Fly is the sort of short, creative, straight-to-the-heart novel that I absolutely love and recommend for those who enjoy a more literary, slow-moving writing style that hinges on those tiny turning points that happen during childhood and early adolescence.


  1. I was so moved by this story and so surprised about how much I loved it. I'm glad you liked it--I think it's a perfectly quiet little coming-of-age story.

    Great review as usual.

    1. I, too, was surprised at just how much I loved it. So so good.