The Best Worst Summer
Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Published May 4, 2021
About The Best Worst Summer
This is going to be the worst summer ever for Peyton. Her family just moved, and she had to leave her best friend behind. She’s lonely. She’s bored. Until . . . she comes across a box buried in her backyard, with a message: I’m so sorry. Please forgive me. Things are about to get interesting.
Back in 1989, it’s going to be the best summer ever for Melissa and Jessica. They have two whole months to goof around and explore, and they’re even going to bury a time capsule! But when one girl’s family secret starts to unravel, it’s clear things may not go exactly as planned.
In alternating chapters, from Peyton in present day to Melissa three decades earlier (a time with no cell phones, no social media, and camera film that took days to develop, but also a whole lot of freedom), a story of a mystery that two sets of characters will never forget.
I was a little nervous at first that this book would come off as shallow and cheesy. I wasn’t immediately drawn into Peyton or Melissa’s voices, but as I read and got to know them better, I feel like I appreciated their goofiness a lot more. I really enjoyed watching the friendship between Peyton and Lucas develop. I liked that they both struggled for more autonomy from their parents but for different reasons. With Jessica and Melissa, I felt sad for the fractures in their friendship and the times they seemed to just miss really seeing each other. It made me remember some things, too, that I wished I’d done differently with a friend.
On the whole, I read the book pretty quickly, and I loved the way the past and present tied together over the mystery of the box. I thought the pacing of that reveal was nicely done and the way everything connected together was also great.
I think readers who enjoyed the celebration of friendship in THE GIRLS OF FIREFLY CABIN by Cynthia Ellingsen will love this one.
Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.
Both point-of-view characters are white. Jessica, Melissa’s best friend is Korean, adopted by white parents. Lucas, Peyton’s friend is in a wheelchair. One scene shows two women who are married.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
One scene shows two women who are married. I think one kisses the other on the cheek.
Melissa’s father is an angry, domineering person. He’s described as abusive, but his behavior is mostly referenced and not shown on scene. Melissa mostly steers clear of him when she can.
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