Author: Dana Reinhardt
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Themes: Coming of age, friendship, family, identity
Age Range: Fifth through Ninth Grade
Summary (from Goodreads): Drew's a bit of a loner. She has a pet rat, her dead dad's Book of Lists, an encyclopedic knowledge of cheese from working at her mom's cheese shop, and a crush on Nick, the surf bum who works behind the counter. It's the summer before eighth grade and Drew's days seem like business as usual, until one night after closing time, when she meets a strange boy in the alley named Emmett Crane. Who he is, why he's there, where the cut on his cheek came from, and his bottomless knowledge of rats are all mysteries Drew will untangle as they are drawn closer together, and Drew enters into the first true friendship, and adventure, of her life.
Review: In honor of the Book of Lists that Drew obsessively reads in order to connect with her deceased father, I am writing my review as a list, entitled...
What I Loved about The Summer I Learned to Fly
1. This book is set in the 80s, but never makes obvious jokes about the decade.
2. Drew's mother owns a gourmet cheese shop, and Drew makes mention of the difficulties Mom faces as a small business owner. This is a topic to which many of our students can relate, and has potential for rich discussion.
3. Drew's voice (and point of view) remind me of being thirteen. The things she says, and the choices she makes, feel 100% real.
4. I consumed this book in two, big gulps. It is simple, honest, and lovely.
5. The ending doesn't give you all the answers, but it gives you just enough.
6. Since completing the book, I still find myself thinking about Drew, Emmet, and Nick. I wish them well.