April 24th, 2016 by Nancy
When I first picked up Summerlost by Ally Condie, I wasn’t sure what to expect. She’s best known for writing the popular Matched Trilogy, a YA science fiction series. Summerlost, as you can probably guess from the book cover, is not science fiction dystopian adventure!
Unless those bikes happen to be future bikes and the cloud in the sky is a time travel portal and the boy on the left is actually an android… But having read Summerlost, I can tell you they most definitely are not.
Summerlost centers around a girl named Cedar Lee, whose dad and brother, Ben, died in a car accident. So she and her mother and her little brother, Miles, have moved back to her mother’s hometown, Iron Creek, Utah, for the summer.
During the summer, Iron Creek has the Summerlost Shakespeare Festival, with plays, old-timey costumes, and employment opportunities for bored and/or ambitious kids. There, Cedar meets a boy her age, Leo Bishop, who has big plans for getting out of Iron Creek (unlike most of the other kids their age). They become friends and Cedar connects with Leo around being an outsider — he’s more interested in classical theater than sports and she’s a Chinese-American surrounded by familial tragedy. Leo convinces Cedar to join him in hosting a secret, unauthorized tour of local acting legend Lisette Chamberlain, and investigate Chamberlain’s mysterious death.
I could describe the book more, but I won’t — but not because there are shocking plot twists; this book deserves to be read because Ally Condie does a wonderful job putting readers into the shoes of Cedar Lee. Cedar longs for her brother and her dad, thinking especially about Ben: He was different, with learning disabilities and difficulty connecting with other kids, but he was also sweet and she understood him in the special way only a sibling would. Cedar and her family have experienced a tragedy, which all of us can relate to, even if on a small level.
Through her friendship with Leo and and coming out of her own shell, Cedar also discovers more about herself — what she’s really interested in and what kind of person she wants to become. At the beginning of the summer, she’s a girl who lost her dad and brother, but at the end of these summer… she’s much more.
Have you had a chance to read Summerlost by Ally Condie? Let me know what you thought in the comments below, or send in a review. If you haven’t read the book yet, I won’t hold it against you. It’s one of those books that can be read any time in your life, even if you decide to pick it up ten years down the line. (I’m WAY older than Kidsmomo readers + 10 years, and obviously I loved the book!)