Tag Archives: summer reads

10 Best Middle Grade Books I Read From Summer 2023

10 Best Middle Grade Books from Summer 2023

This summer definitely did not go as I planned. Looking back, I wonder why I imagined I’d have so much more time to do things like create list posts. Ha! Alas, here I am at the end of summer, and instead of a big list of the middle grade books that looked so great, please enjoy a list of the 10 best middle grade books I read from summer 2023.

10 Best Middle Grade Books I Read From Summer 2023

The Gray by Chris Baron

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: A boy with anxiety forced to spend an unplugged summer with his aunt meets new friends who challenge how he sees himself. This was the first book by Chris Baron that I’ve read, and I can’t wait to read more!

Published: June 13, 2023 | My Review

Greenwild: The World Behind the Door by Pari Thompson

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: A girl portals to another world filled with magic and danger– and a fabulous cat! This could be my favorite book this year.

Published: June 6, 2023 | My Review

The Hunt for the Hollower by Callie C. Miller

Amazon | BookshopGoodreads

What you need to know: A girl struggling to control her magic may be the only person who can save her twin brother. Full of fun, magic, friendships, and adventure.

Published: June 13, 2023 | My Review

Maybe There Are Witches by Jude Atwood

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: In a small town with deep history, a girl with a magical diary must stop a great evil bent on destroying the town. Perfect for the Halloween season.

Published: June 13, 2023 | My Review | Author Q&A

Theo Tan and the Iron Fan by Jesse Q. Sutanto

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: A boy and his fox spirit journey to hell and back (literally) for his family. Fun and filled with magic and adventure.

Published: June 27, 2023 | My Review

Brick Dust and Bones by M. R. Fournet

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: A twelve-year-old monster hunter battles evil to bring his mother back from the dead. This one surprised me in the best ways. Powerful storytelling and great characters.

Published: July 18, 2023 | My Review

Kelcie Murphy and the Hunt for the Heart of Danu (Academy for the Unbreakable Arts #2) by Erika Lewis

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: Kelcie and her friends race to stop the theft of a magical artifact that protects life in her kingdom. Great for kids interested in a magic school story.

Published: July 25, 2023 | My Review

The Great Texas Dragon Race by Kacy Ritter

Amazon | BookshopGoodreads

What you need to know: In a world in which dragons are often enslaved, the daughter of a rancher enters a race in order to save their dragon sanctuary. Fans of SKANDAR AND THE UNICORN THIEF would like this one.

Published: August 1, 2023 | My Review

The Raven Throne (Raven Crown #2) by Stephanie Burgis

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: When their sister falls into an enchanted sleep, triplets Giles and Rosalind race to save her. The twisty conclusion to the Raven Crown duology.

Published: August 8, 2023 | My Review

Sorceline 2 by Sylvia Douyé, Paola Antista, and Tanya Gold

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: In an enchanted sleep, Sorceline fights for her life while her classmates unravel the mystery of her origin in hopes of waking her. Beautifully illustrated– a fantastic follow-up to the first book.

Published: August 22, 2023 | My Review

What Were Your Favorite Middle Grade Books of Summer 2023?

Did you read any great books over the summer this year? Are there great books I should add to my reading list? What are your new favorites? Did you read any of the books I listed here? Leave a comment and let me know!

14 Middle Grade Debut Books You Need to Read This Year

Debut Authors Need Your Help

Middle grade debut books often face more challenges than subsequent books by established writers, and that’s never been more true than this year. Beginning last spring, concerns about COVID-19 meant not only school closures, but author visits, book fairs, book signings, book cons, summer library and bookstore programs– major things authors do to promote their books– were canceled.

Here’s something you can do to help. Read through this list. Add titles to your Goodreads shelf using the links below. If your budget allows, purchase a couple of the books on this list through any of the buy links. (Amazon, Book Depository and Indiebound links are affiliate links.)

At the bottom of the list, I’ve posted a quick ideas list of 4 ways you can support these authors and help promote their debut MG titles even if you can’t afford to buy their books.

14 Middle Grade Debut Books

Stand Up, Yumi Chung by Jessica Kim

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

What You Need to Know: Mistaken identity gives Yumi the chance she’s been dreaming of at comedy camp. A funny, feel-good story.

Published March 17, 2020

Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen by Sarah Kapit

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

What You Need to Know: Told through letters between a girl with autism and a dream to pitch baseball and her major league hero.

Published February 25, 2020

My Life as a Potato by Arianne Costner

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

What You Need to Know: An unwilling team mascot, a possible potato curse, and a chance at the prettiest girl in school. Super fun.

Published March 4, 2020 | My review

Mary Underwater by Shannon Doleski

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

What You Need to Know: A hopeful (and at times heartbreaking) story of a young girl who decides to build a submarine and sail it across the Chesapeake Bay.

Published April 7, 2020 | My Review

Ghost Squad by Claribel Ortega

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

What You Need to Know: Goodreads describes this one as “Coco meets Stranger Things with a hint of Ghostbusters.” Spooky and sweet. Also, I heard there’s a cat!

Published April 7, 2020

Finally, Something Mysterious by Doug Cornett

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

What You Need to Know: Three friends. Hundreds of rubber duckies. A town enthralled with its upcoming bratwurst competition. I laughed out loud!

Published April 14, 2020 | My review

The Mostly Invisible Boy by AJ Vanderhorst

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

What You Need to Know: A brother and sister take a wild adventure through the monster-infested Sylvan Wood. Quirky, funny and entertaining.

Published April 25, 2020 | My Review

Turtle Boy by M. Evan Wolkenstein

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

What You Need to Know: A boy with a weird chin, a hospital-bound punk drummer, and a bucket list that might change everything.

Published May 5, 2020

What Happens Next by Claire Swinarski

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

What You Need to Know: A solar eclipse, a search for a missing telescope, and a girl missing her older sister. Perfect for fans of THE THING ABOUT JELLYFISH.

Published May 19, 2020 | My Review

The Dream Weavers by Reina Luz Alegre

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

What You Need to Know: An ownvoices story about a 12 year-old girl who connects with her Cuban heritage and about discovering where you belong for the first time.

Published June 23, 2020

A Summer Taken by Jason Milgram

Amazon | Goodreads

What You Need to Know: A girl facing summer camp again after losing her cousin and inspiration. Heartbreaking and hopeful.

Published July 4, 2020

The Circus of Stolen Dreams by Lorelei Savaryn

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

What You Need to Know: A sister looking for her lost brother. A magical circus where the cost of entry is a memory. For fans of CIRCUS MIRANDUS and THE NIGHT GARDENER.

Published September 1, 2020

Beetle and the Hollowbones by Aliza Layne

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

What You Need to Know: A graphic novel following a young goblin on a search for her best friend in a haunted mall.

Published September 1, 2020

Double the Danger and Zero Zucchini by Betsy Uhrig

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

What You Need to Know: A boy gets hired by his aunt to help her fix her children’s book about a grumpy frog and prize-winning zucchini. Sounds hilarious to me!

Published September 22, 2020

4 Ways You Can Help These Debut Authors

  • Order a copy of any of these books using the buy links listed.
  • Contact your local library and ask them to order copies of these titles.
  • Share this post so that other readers can see the list and support the authors, too!
  • Write your own blog or social media post that highlights your favorite debut authors’ books– be sure to include at least one buy link.

There are more middle grade debut books in this list on Goodreads, too. Check it out and find even more titles you might like!

What are your favorite debut middle grade titles from this year?

Have you read any of the books on this list? Which are your favorites, or which ones are you excited to read?

If you’ve got other debut titles on your reading list, let me know about them! Let’s spread the word and help support this year’s debut authors.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Summer Reads

Summer–the perfect time to hang on the beach, barbecue with friends…or take the time to enjoy a good book. Here’s several that Kasey and I enjoyed, and that we think you will too!

Breakout by Kate Messner– June 5th, 2018

“Nora Tucker is looking forward to summer vacation in Wolf Creek–two months of swimming, popsicles, and brushing up on her journalism skills for the school paper. But when two inmates break out of the town’s maximum security prison, everything changes. Doors are locked, helicopters fly over the woods, and police patrol the school grounds. Worst of all, everyone is on edge, and fear brings out the worst in some people Nora has known her whole life. Even if the inmates are caught, she worries that home might never feel the same.

Told in letters, poems, text messages, news stories, and comics–a series of documents Nora collects for the Wolf Creek Community Time Capsule Project–Breakout is a thrilling story that will leave readers thinking about who’s really welcome in the places we call home.” 

Kasey reviewed this one on June 13th, saying “While the social issues are a solid, important part of the story, at its core, this is a tale of three girls who learn what it is to be friends. To take chances, to trust one another, to forgive, to put themselves in the other girls’ shoes. This is a great read for all those reasons.”

Bookish Boyfriends by Tiffany Schmidt– May 1st, 2018

“Boys are so much better in books. At least according to Merrilee Campbell, 15, who thinks real-life chivalry is dead and there’d be nothing more romantic than having a guy woo her like the heroes in classic stories. Then she, her best friend, Eliza, and her younger sister, Rory, transfer to Reginald R. Hero Prep–where all the boys look like they’ve stepped off the pages of a romance novel. Merri can hardly walk across the quad without running into someone who reminds her of Romeo.

When the brooding and complicated Monroe Stratford scales Merri’s trellis in an effort to make her his, she thinks she might be Juliet incarnate. But as she works her way through her literature curriculum under the guidance of an enigmatic teacher, Merri’s tale begins to unfold in ways she couldn’t have imagined. Merri soon realizes that only she is in charge of her story. And it is a truth universally acknowledged that first impressions can be deceiving…”

Fluffy, light-hearted romcoms are perfect beach reads. And ones that feature book nerds at the heart of the story? Sign me up. This book was such a fun story, and I’m hoping the author turns it into a series!

The Opposite of Here by Tara Altebrando– June 5th, 2018

“Natalie’s parents are taking her and her three best friends on a cruise for her seventeenth birthday. A sail-a-bration, they call it. But it’s only been a few short months since Natalie’s boyfriend died in a tragic accident, and she wants to be anywhere but here.
Then she meets a guy on the first night and sparks fly. After a moonlit conversation on a secluded deck of the ship, Natalie pops down to her cabin to get her swimsuit so they can go for a dip. But when she returns, he’s gone. Something he said makes her think he might have . . . jumped? No, he couldn’t have.
But why do her friends think she’s crazy for wanting to make sure he’s okay? Also, why do they seem to be hiding something from her? And how can she find him when she doesn’t even know his name? Most importantly, why is the captain on the intercom announcing the urgent need for a headcount?
With her signature thrilling storytelling, the author of The Leaving and The Possible explores our vulnerability to the power of suggestion-and the lies we tell others and ourselves-in a twisting, Hitchcock-inspired mystery with high stakes and dark secrets.

Rather dive into a chilling mystery than a fluffy romance? Then check out this intriguing read which Kasey recommends to “older suspense lovers as a nice beach or poolside read this summer.”

Listen to Your Heart by Kasie West — May 29th, 2018

“Talking to other people isn’t Kate Bailey’s favorite activity. She’d much rather be out on the lake, soaking up the solitude and sunshine. So when her best friend, Alana, convinces Kate to join their high school’s podcast, Kate is not expecting to be chosen as the host. Now she’ll have to answer calls and give advice on the air? Impossible.

But to Kate’s surprise, she turns out to be pretty good at the hosting gig. Then the podcast gets in a call from an anonymous guy, asking for advice about his unnamed crush. Kate is pretty sure that the caller is gorgeous Diego Martinez, and even surer that the girl in question is Alana. Kate is excited for her friend … until Kate herself starts to develop feelings for Diego. Suddenly, Kate finds that while doling out wisdom to others may be easy, asking for help is tougher than it looks, and following your own advice is even harder.

Kasie West’s adorable story of secrets, love, and friendship is sure to win over hearts everywhere.”

Kasie West writes sweet romances for young adult readers, and her newest book looks like it’ll be good one. I’m adding it to my reading list!

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett– April 3rd, 2018

“Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern day, Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets.

But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.

What could go wrong?

With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.

And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars?”

This book sounds great for outdoorsy readers who like a good romance. Read Kasey’s review here!

Fawkes by Nadine Brandes– July 10th, 2018

Thomas Fawkes is turning to stone, and the only cure to the Stone Plague is to join his father’s plot to assassinate the king of England.

Silent wars leave the most carnage. The wars that are never declared, but are carried out in dark alleys with masks and hidden knives. Wars where color power alters the natural rhythm of 17th century London. And when the king calls for peace, no one listens until he finally calls for death.

But what if death finds him first?

Keepers think the Igniters caused the plague. Igniters think the Keepers did it. But all Thomas knows is that the Stone Plague infecting his eye is spreading. And if he doesn’t do something soon, he’ll be a lifeless statue. So when his Keeper father, Guy Fawkes, invites him to join the Gunpowder Plot—claiming it will put an end to the plague—Thomas is in.

The plan: use 36 barrels of gunpowder to blow up the Igniter King.

The problem: Doing so will destroy the family of the girl Thomas loves. But backing out of the plot will send his father and the other plotters to the gallows. To save one, Thomas will lose the other.

No matter Thomas’s choice, one thing is clear: once the decision is made and the color masks have been put on, there’s no turning back.’

This was an incredible historical fantasy that delved deep into relevant issues, such as race, gender equality, and faith. Definitely recommend this one for your TBR list!

Ginger Kid by Steve Hofstetter– March 20th, 2018

“In Ginger Kid, popular comedian Steve Hofstetter grapples with life after seventh grade . . . when his world fell apart. Formatted as a series of personal essays, Steve walks his readers through awkward early dating, family turbulence, and the revenge of the bullied nerds. This YA nonfiction is sure to be the beloved next volume for the first generation of Wimpy Kid fans who are all grown up and ready for a new misfit hero.

Here’s a great nonfiction book for readers who are busy this summer. Broken up into short essays, it’s book that delivers on humor and heart. Kasey recommends it “not just for misfits but for anyone who has ever felt awkward in a crowd or wrestled with self-discovery. If you’re looking for a lighthearted read, add this one to your list for sure!”

Mirage by Somaiya Daud– August 28th, 2018

“In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.

But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection…because one wrong move could lead to her death.”

This highly anticipated debut from Somaiya Daud features a strong heroine with a lot of heart. I loved the MC in this one, and I bet you will too.

Renegades by Marissa Meyer– November 7th, 2017

Secret Identities. Extraordinary Powers. She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies — humans with extraordinary abilities — who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone… except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice — and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

Who doesn’t love a classic superhero story? And by Marissa Meyer? It’s sure to be good. This summer is a great time to read (or reread) Renegades, just in time for the sequel to release this winter.

The Forest Queen by Betsy Cornwell– August 7th, 2018

“When sixteen-year-old Sylvie’s brother takes over management of their family’s vast estates, Sylvie feels powerless to stop his abuse of the local commoners. Her dearest friend asks her to run away to the woods with him, and soon a host of other villagers join them. Together, they form their own community and fight to right the wrongs perpetrated by the king and his noblemen. Perfect for fans of fairy tale retellings or anyone who loves a strong female lead, this gorgeously written take on the Robin Hood tale goes beyond the original’s focus on economic justice to explore love, gender, the healing power of nature, and what it means to be a family.”

This one has been on my TBR list since I first heard about it, and it made our Top Ten Exciting 2018 YA Releases list earlier this year. I can’t wait to read this one!

What’s on your summer TBR list?

How about you? Do you have a favorite beach read you’d like to recommend? Comment below; we’d love to hear your thoughts!

Review: Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser

Song of the Current
Sarah Tolcser
Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Published June 6, 2017

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

About Song of the Current
Caroline Oresteia is destined for the river. For generations, her family has been called by the river god, who has guided their wherries on countless voyages throughout the Riverlands. At seventeen, Caro has spent years listening to the water, ready to meet her fate. But the river god hasn’t spoken her name yet—and if he hasn’t by now, there’s a chance he never will.

Caro decides to take her future into her own hands when her father is arrested for refusing to transport a mysterious crate. By agreeing to deliver it in exchange for his release, Caro finds herself caught in a web of politics and lies, with dangerous pirates after the cargo—an arrogant courier with a secret—and without the river god to help her. With so much at stake, Caro must choose between the life she always wanted and the one she never could have imagined for herself.

My Review
The writing in this story hooked me right from page one. I fell instantly in love with Caro and ached with her over her fears about being overlooked by the god of the river. Her unexpected passenger made me laugh (though he mostly made Caro roll her eyes), and I spent pages and pages eagerly hoping for more than just angry sparks between them. Even the minor characters seemed to pop right off the page.

I loved the story world, too. It reminded me a little bit of The African Queen (the movie with Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn where they run a dangerous course down the river to escape the Nazis) but with a fantasy spin and gender roles reversed.

The plot started off strong and only got better. Every time I thought the stakes couldn’t possibly get higher, Tolcser proved me wrong by adding some new twist.

The only hiccup for me was the way romance is portrayed in the story. It’s not that I don’t believe casual relationships or unconventional relationships exist. I guess I find them unsatisfying to read about. I’m a sucker for a true love tale, and I can’t seem to help it.

Overall, though, this is a great summer read for fantasy lovers looking for a sailing adventure. (Trish Doller, all the sailing references made me think of you and our conversation at ApollyCon! I’m still hoping to see your sailing novel in print one day!)

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

Cultural Elements
Caro is of mixed race, with bronze skin and fiery red hair, an unusual combination. Her sailing companion is one of the Frogmen, a race said to be part river god, part human. She has large eyes and a wide, frog-like mouth as well as green skin. Some cultures treat Frogmen as slaves. Caro and her family consider them equals.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Moderate profanity used infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Some kissing. Late in the story, Caro takes a lover (a young man) to bed with her. They begin undressing each other, and it’s implied they have sex. She makes it clear she’s comfortable with a casual relationship and doesn’t want to commit to any future with him.

Spiritual Content
Lots of references to various gods and their roles in human life. Caro’s family has had a long relationship with the god under the river, who speaks to them in small things. Caro has been waiting for a connection with the god for her whole life. Other gods exist as well, some more powerful or capricious than others.

Violent Content
A group of soldiers beat a young man. References to torture (Caro doesn’t witness it.) Battles between Caro’s allies and enemies. Not a lot of gore, though.

Drug Content
Caro and her companion drink wine and liquor.

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Review: It Started with Goodbye by Christina June

It Started with Goodbye
Christina June
Blink YA
Published May 9, 2017

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

When a shopping trip with her best friend and best friend’s boyfriend ends in an arrest for shoplifting, Tatum tries to convince her parents of her innocence. But instead of understanding that Tatum did nothing wrong, that it was all the creepy boyfriend’s fault, Tatum’s dad leaves her under the strict rule of her stepmother. Yay for summer house arrest.

As part of her punishment, Tatum works community service, where a friend challenges her to start her own business doing graphic design. As Tatum explores the possibility, she meets a charming boy looking for a website, and learns she and her stepsister may have something in common after all.

I liked spunky Tatum and the charming and mysterious boy she communicates with via email. The way the relationship unfolded drew me even further into the story. I liked that she ends up with a community of friends around her. I also liked the exploration of the relationship between Tatum and her stepmother. As a member of a blended family, I felt like that relationship read pretty true. Though she eventually comes to respect her stepmom, Tatum is pretty rude at different points in the story. She does regret her behavior later.

I thought it was cool to feature a character with interest in graphic design, especially one as entrepreneurial as Tatum. It added an interesting flavor to the story. Overall, this is a clean book and a light read. Fans of A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody will appreciate Tatum’s quirkiness and wild attempts to fix things. The story might also appeal to readers who enjoyed That’s Not Hay in My Hair by Juliette Turner.

Recommended for Ages 12 up.

Cultural Elements
Most characters are straight and white. Tatum’s step-family (mom, sister, grandmother) are Chilean.

Profanity/Crude Language Content

Romance/Sexual Content
Brief kissing between boy and girl.

Spiritual Content

Violent Content

Drug Content

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Review: Summer by Summer by Heather Burch

Summer by Summer by Heather Burch
Blink YA/Zondervan

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

After tragedy turns Summer’s life upside down, a summer in Belize caring for a charming young boy seems like the perfect escape. Then she meets her charge’s older brother, Bray. His smooth talk and good looks only remind her of everything she wanted to leave behind.

Bray doesn’t get Summer. He doesn’t understand why she hides herself beneath miles of ugly flower print dresses and avoids fun like it will bite. He resents her assumptions about him, even if some of them may be true.

When a boat tour and a terrible storm leave the two stranded on an uninhabited island, they have only each other to lean on for survival. Summer must learn to trust Bray and depend on his strength. As they grow closer, Bray must decide the kind of man he wants to be. When hope for rescue fades, the island give up a dangerous secret. Summer and Bray risk their lives to find a way home.

This book is every bit a romantic fantasy. A handsome guy and a heart-wounded girl trapped alone on an island. Let the romantic tension begin! While Summer and Bray keep boundaries on the physical part of their relationship, the struggle is pretty plain, especially for Bray. Despite the romance being decidedly in the forefront, some unexpected twists in the plot keep the pages turning.

The emotional journeys of the characters are a bit juvenile, which is probably okay since it’s YA… still, I wanted more depth from the characters. Sometimes it seemed as if I was getting the prettied up version of things rather than a deeper, realistic expression. I tend to enjoy grittier stories, so it could just be that personal preference rather than any flaw in the story. Either way it’s a great, light, summer read. Perfect for the beach, reading poolside or curled up next to a sunny window.

Language Content
No profanity.

Sexual Content
Bray has a history of hooking up with girls at parties, but he doesn’t mention details other than not being a virgin. Things between him and Summer get pretty steamy. There’s a lot of tension between them, but they commit to waiting until they are married to have sex.

Spiritual Content
Summer wrestles with some major doubts about her faith since the death of her best friend. Bray doesn’t seem to have a spiritual background but they do discuss what she believes and how important it is to her.

A man is shot, and it appears a woman may be held against her will.

Drug Content
Bray and his friends drink alcohol at a party. The legal drinking age in Belize is 18. Summer reflects on how drinking alcohol destroyed the life of someone she loved.