Summerlost by Ally Condie

“…once you see something big, you can’t help seeing it in everything small.”

Synopsis from GoodreadsIt’s the first real summer since the devastating accident that killed Cedar’s father and younger brother, Ben. But now Cedar and what’s left of her family are returning to the town of Iron Creek for the summer. They’re just settling into their new house when a boy named Leo, dressed in costume, rides by on his bike. Intrigued, Cedar follows him to the renowned Summerlost theatre festival. Soon, she not only has a new friend in Leo and a job working concessions at the festival, she finds herself surrounded by mystery. The mystery of the tragic, too-short life of the Hollywood actress who haunts the halls of Summerlost. And the mystery of the strange gifts that keep appearing for Cedar.

Infused with emotion and rich with understanding, Summerlost is the touching middle grade debut from Ally Condie, the international bestselling author of the Matched series, that highlights the strength of family and personal resilience in the face of tragedy.

Feelings: This book saved me from a pretty deep reading slump. I hadn’t picked up a book in a couple of weeks, which for me…is a LONG time. This story feels simple and yet also really deep. I went through a variety of emotions without ever feeling heavy or overwhelmed. It’s a sweet story with characters who feel really real. The setting could have been anywhere, yet it was also a really special place with a lot of character. I enjoyed reading about the Summerlost festival and now I want to see a play. Ha!

Issues: The only (albeit, minor) issue that I had was about the 2 stories and the way they wove together. For the most part, I found Cedar Lee’s story mixed with the mystery of Lisette’s death went together well. However, it was only a tiny bit disconnected. We went from trying to solve a murder to secretly watching a soap opera back to asking questions about Lisette’s life to thinking about Cedar’s dead brother. Sometimes the going back and forth could have been a little smoother. But really, it’s a tiny baby issue. It didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story much, if at all.

Characters: I really felt for Cedar. Sometimes I forgot that she was 12 years old because of the way she was wrestling some major conflicts. Then, she’d react sharply or talk about her blossoming crush and I’d remember how young she was. I found her perspective to be refreshing and different from anything else I’ve read lately.

My feelings for Leo changed multiple times throughout the novel. At first, I thought he was a fun best friend character who could really help Cedar process what was going on in her life. He was confident and friendly, taking her under his wing. Then, like with Cedar, I was reminded of how young and innocent he was. He had his own conflicts and goals, some that encouraged Cedar and others that seemed to jar her. Their friendship and the way their relationship develops is really sweet and was written well, I think.

Final thoughts: This is a book that’s been on my radar for a while and I’m really glad that I finally picked it up. It sparked me back into a reading groove! The story is great if you’re looking for something you can connect with and enjoy, rather than really dig deep into and take a lot of time with. It’s a quick and easy read that’ll stay with you.

Pick this up if you liked:

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

Goodreads rating: 3.87/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.4/5

My rating: 4.25/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

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