The Summer Before Boys
Author: Nora Raleigh Baskin
Simon & Schuster
Imprint: Simon & Schuster
Books for Young Readers
Julia and Eliza are best friends, spending the summer together. Julia's mother is serving in the National Guard and Julia spends all of her time trying not to think about what could happen. So the girls lose themselves in their summer, hanging out at the resort where Eliza's father works. But when they meet a new boy, neither one of them is prepared for what it does to their friendship.
Nora Raleigh Baskin delivers a poignant look at the way a first crush can come between best friends and the importance of hanging on to the time you have as a kid before rushing into growing up.
(Summary and cover via Goodreads)
The Summer Before Boys was a couple stories in one. The first deals with the that time in life where we begin to lose our youth and become interested in things like boys. The other story is about the sacrifices that member of our Armed Forces and their families make during times of war and deployments. Both stories are intertwined in a simple and beautiful manner.
Julia and Eliza are best friends and relatives. They love to read and pretend. They read the classics- Little Women and Little House On the Prairie. There is magic all around them as they imagine the lives of these characters and create there own. However, at 12 years old, things are beginning to change for Julia at least. Sometimes she can't see the same things Eliza sees. Julia's also begun to notice boys. One boy in particular. This change threatens to tear Julia and Eliza apart.
The other part of the story is the part that touched me the most. Julia's mom is serving as a nurse in Iraq. The current summer near the end of her deployment is mixed in with flashbacks to the past year, when Julia and another student were sent to special counciling for students with deployed parents. The worry and longing for her mother's safe return is so strong. Nora Raleigh Baskin did a particularly good job in describing what it's like to have a parent serving in the military far away from home. It was a wonderful reminder of what the families of our men and women in uniform must go through not only while their loved ones are away, but also how different things can be when they come back.
I found this book to be so moving and real. I understood these girls. I was always reading the same books as they did. I could see myself in their shoes. I also appreciated the harsh realities of war and having a mom so far away. Julia went through so many emotions while her mom was gone, and I felt them right along with her. I think everyone should read this to really understand what kind of things the families of our service members can go through. The worry of not knowing if your loved one is safe. The agony of missing a simple phone call because you never know when you may get another. I ended the book with a heart for of thankfulness for both our service men and women and their families. This was such a good book, and I hope everyone will read it.
Galley provided by publisher for review.