Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Published February 4, 2020
From acclaimed author Kate Messner comes the powerful story of a young girl with the courage to make her voice heard, set against the backdrop of a summertime mystery.
When Mia moves to Vermont the summer after seventh grade, she’s recovering from the broken arm she got falling off a balance beam. And packed away in the moving boxes under her clothes and gymnastics trophies is a secret she’d rather forget.
Mia’s change in scenery brings day camp, new friends, and time with her beloved grandmother. But Gram is convinced someone is trying to destroy her cricket farm. Is it sabotage or is Gram’s thinking impaired from the stroke she suffered months ago? Mia and her friends set out to investigate, but can they uncover the truth in time to save Gram’s farm? And will that discovery empower Mia to confront the secret she’s been hiding–and find the courage she never knew she had?
In a compelling story rich with friendship, science, and summer fun, a girl finds her voice while navigating the joys and challenges of growing up.
I got kind of nervous as I started to read this book. The way it talked about Mia having a secret, I assumed it had something to do with an adult having inappropriate contact with her, and I wasn’t sure how explicit or intense that would be. Since I’m pretty sensitive to the topic, I felt a little tense until I got to that part of the story. It didn’t include anything nightmarishly explicit. I don’t say that to downplay what Mia experienced at all, simply that as a reader, it didn’t end up being something I couldn’t handle reading.
Mia’s grandmother made me smile so much. She’s strong and brave and pretty committed to her course. I liked the relationship she has with Mia, and the way each encouraged the other. Mia’s friendships with Clover and Anna were great, too. I loved how they bonded over their shared passion for their Launch Camp projects and then over other experiences.
At one point in the book, after Mia has heard from several of the women in her life about experiences where they were harrassed or treated inappropriately by men, she wonders if this is something that all women experience. I felt like it’s such a reasonable question, and such a hard part about growing up, right? Because too many women do have those stories. I know I do.
While it’s heartbreaking watching someone realize something troubling about the world, I loved the way it becomes part of Mia’s healing, too. She’s not alone. She’s not wrong for feeling the way she did, even though at the time, she felt completely alone and ashamed for feeling uncomfortable.
I also loved that, even though I thought the topic was really well-addressed, the story wasn’t only about these things. Mia is never defined by that experience. She’s always many things– a girl with lots of interests and talents and relationships.
Plus I have to talk about the cricket farm. I know I say this every time I read a book with a protagonist with an unusual interest or talent, but I love that the author brought such a different family business to the story– not only a cricket farm, but crickets for a food source! I thought that was really fun.
Recommended for Ages 10 to 14.
Mia’s friend Anna is Indian. A couple other minor characters are also Asian.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mia recalls situations in which a man made her uncomfortable and left her feeling icky.
A brief mention that Mia’s family has gone to church on Sunday.
A man verbally threatens a girl.
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