Summary: The Best Worst Summer
The Best Worst Summer follows two sets of kids three decades apart. In the present, Peyton and her family have just moved from Minneapolis to a small town named Lake Springs, leaving her best friend and their summer soccer camp tradition behind. She’s having the worst summer! Her brother is always playing video games. Plus, her mom’s new job has her pretty occupied, just as her dad’s graphic design job. But her summer gains new life when she discovers a box of secrets: a cryptic note to a friend, half of a “best friends” necklace, a playlist and several other items. After making her first new friend in the library, Peyton is eager to get to the bottom of the time capsule mystery.
Meanwhile, in 1989, best friends Jessica and Melissa are planning the best summer ever! They even plan to bury a time capsule. Jessica is an adopted Korean girl — one of the only Asians in her small town — and Melissa’s mom is hiding some deep secrets about their family. When the secret unravels, the girls’ lives are forever changed. That is until Peyton finds their time capsule in the present. The story alternates between past and present as we read Melissa and Peyton’s perspectives.
I LOVED this story! It was my first time reading a book by this author and her writing is so enjoyable. Many writers can take a brilliant story from start to finish, but then there are those who carry you through the entire thing. One second you’re on page one and the next you’re halfway through the entire book. This was the latter and I loved every minute.
Peyton is a relatable character and she deals with moving away from her best friend and the inevitable jealousy when that friend begins to make new friends. Thankfully, she makes a new friend as well, Lucas, who uses a wheelchair. Lucas then works with her to decipher the message in the box as well as figure out which two girls may have made the time capsule.
As much as I loved the present-day sleuthing, it was so fascinating to read historical fiction that about two kids living life in the 1980’s. Melissa and Jessica went to their favorite diner, hung out with friends, made mixtapes (old school style), and enjoyed each others’ company. Yet, they dealt with different issues like racial prejudice, domestic violence (nothing graphic), and the usual miscommunication in friendships.
Overall: The Best Worst Summer
The Best Worst Summer is a charming, engaging middle grade novel that manages to blend historical and contemporary fiction. Friendship is the book’s central theme, but it also features good disability representation, realistic family dynamics, the struggles of moving from one city to another, and a riveting mystery for readers to watch the characters resolve. Set in summer, this book is an excellent summer reading pick!
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I received an eARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.