So in my last book review, I told you how I like a book with lots of action. But I told you that I also thoroughly enjoy other books. Well, here’s one of those other books. I’m a sucker for sad books. I’m also a sucker for young adult books. I’ve loved reading since I was a kid and voraciously devoured many books in our school and public library when I was a youngster. I think some of the enjoyment I got from those books back then has stayed with me and that’s why I still really enjoy a lot of young adult books now!
This particular book is a classic. It was originally published in 1977 and while many things about life have changed in the 2000’s, the very basis of life, relationships and the changes that come have not changed! “A Summer to Die” by Lois Lowry is a good read. Interestingly enough, the Afterword, which was written in 2015, actually tells us that the background to this book lies in Lois’ own experiences with her sister. Naturally, much has been changed, but it’s just neat to know that the book was inspired by her own experiences.
Molly and Meg are sisters and their parents move them out to the country so that their Dad can finish writing the book that he’s been working on for too long! Neither sister is too keen on the move but some come realize that it’s not so bad. Meg finds an older neighbour that she ends up practicing photography and darkroom work with and Molly finds cheerleading and a boyfriend! But then Molly has nosebleeds – that don’t stop. For quite some time there are no answers until one night when she has a particularly bad one. Molly ends up going to a hospital quite a distance away for treatments and medicine to make her better. She loses her hair and also becomes grumpy and petulant, not all the happy, bubbly sister she used to be. Meg really struggles to accept this “new” sister of hers and her parents really never explained to her just how serious Molly’s illness is.
Throughout the summer, Meg practices her photography and Molly collects and dries flowers. Life goes on, as it tends to, even when things aren’t 100% back to normal. It seems like things might even get back to normal, but then Molly ends up with a new symptom that causes her to go back to hospital and this time Meg realizes just how serious it is.
This book is likely to bring a tear to your eye, so reader beware. But I’ve always loved teary books – when a book can evoke that depth of emotions within me, I know the author has done his or her job! And let’s face it, death is a part of life, and we’re much better off realizing it’s a constant possibility than sequestering ourselves away from it. Lois Lowry does a fantastic job of telling a story that really could be a non-fiction truth. Life happens, life changes, diagnoses come that we’d never expect and sometimes…a loved one dies. I believe this is a good book for our young people to read – to realize there are realities out there that aren’t the ones we’d choose. And to realize that we need to be so aware of our reactions to those realities.
Having read this book, it makes me want to go dig through my collection of young adult books and pull out the rest of the Lois Lowry ones so that I can reread them! Thanks to Raincoast Books for reminding what a great author she is! Head over to Facebook and give the a “like” to tell them thanks!