A Summer to Die Written by Lois Lowry
Unlike the other books by Lois Lowry, I read this one when I was actually a teenager. I was in love with it back then, and it was one of a handful that I manage to read to pieces. Some of the books I did that to was not as good, but I had a shortage of good books at the time. So when I did get a good book, I would read it till I had to tape the pages together.
A Summer to Die was surprisingly fun to read, despite the dark title. It follows a family, who goes to the country for a year so that the Father, who is an English Professor, can write a book on Irony. No joke. And along the year, the various members of the family live life and some of the life was not that good. The main character is the youngest, Meg. And she is a creative, highly intelligent, but moody thirteen-year-old who loves art and photography. She does not know what she wants from life, she just knows she wants to do something important with it. She has a fifteen-year-old sister, who is very sure of what she wants. To be Mrs. Somebody else, and have at least six babies.
As the title suggests, Someone dies. But I like how this is not obvious at first. It kind of creeps in on the family, unawares. Mixed in with making new friends, and finding boyfriends, with days of the sound of pounding typewriter keys, and quilt-piecing. Just like it happens in real life. And like real life, the more serious the situation gets, the more it consumes the whole family. Even Meg, who is left out of the loop on most of it, feels it slowly take over and change her family. And how it changes her sister most of all The book is just about perfect, in my mind. Though to be fair, it is the only one where I’m not sure I’m looking at it with clear eyes.
Nostalgia might be clouding my judgment. But every time I read it, I feel totally emersed in the world of a family who goes through some serious ups and downs, but continues to be a family, for better or worst. And you get the feeling at the end that, it may be a bit strained at the end of the year, that family would continue and endure and move past the trauma. Maybe even learn something from it, especially Meg.
I give it, like the other Lowry books, an Ultimate Recommendation, and strongly urge you to give it a good read. Check it out, and see if it is worth some serious fuss. And, by the by, this is Lowry’s first book. Just to let you know.