Summary: The Firefly Summer
The Firefly Summer follows young Ryanna who gets sent to a family summer camp with her her mother’s extended family — who she hasn’t seen since her mom died when she was three. Ryanna goes to camp hoping for a low-key situation where she can spend time in peace and quiet with her grandparents but is surprised to find a slew of aunts, uncles, and cousins at Camp Van Camp. After a rocky start, she starts to learn more about her mom, even discovering a treasure map she created as a kid and reading the detective novels she used to enjoy. But when she discovers that the campgrounds will be torn down by a developer, Ryanna and her cousins have to band together to save the day.
This book had peak summer vibes and I loved reading the history of the camp and learning about Ryanna’s mother through the stories from the other family members. I also liked that the camp was unscheduled for the kids so they could spend the day as they liked for the most part instead of having a daily itinerary.
The treasure map Ryanna finds adds a bit more structure to the plot and gives the kids a reason to adventure and work together. There’s also a teeny element of mystery with the map and as readers learn more about the developer threatening the camp and his family.
I found the Van Camp kids and their spouses interesting, especially in terms of what they were doing with their careers to be able to spend more time at Camp with their families. It was also unique for Ryanna to have parents who worked in film!
This book was underwhelming for me in terms of plot. I thought it was also about 100 pages longer than it needed to be. It felt like nothing much was happening chapter after chapter, and then a whole lot happened in the last 20 or so pages. Readers who simply want to go through the day-to-day of being at a family summer camp may enjoy this regardless.
Overall: The Firefly Summer
The Firefly Summer is a summer-infused middle grade book about family, summer camps, and learning more about a deceased parent. Only child Ryanna Stuart is thrown into a chaotic family summer where she has freedom to explore and learn about the mother she lost at age three. While this middle grade book could’ve been way shorter, it wins by highlighting the value of family (with some sweet family moments) and providing ultimate summer vibes.
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