Monday, June 12, 2023

MMGM- Half Moon Summer

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday
and #IMWAYR day 

Vickers, Elaine. Half Moon Summer
June 6, 2023 by Peachtree
ARC provided by the publisher

Drew is dreading the summer in Half Moon Bay, since his best friend Isaac has moved away. They usually spent the summer wandering around town, going to the beach, and doing things like burying a time capsule. He still can text his friend, but Isaac is obsessed with a new video game, and it's not the same as being together. He also has to watch his younger sister Luna, and his father Pete wants him to spend more time at the family woodworking shop. His father also buys him a pair of running shoes and makes him go running with him at 6 a.m. Mia (whose chapters are written in verse) is also not thrilled to be spending the summer in Half Moon Bay, but that's because her grandmother in Alaska is ill. Her father has to travel there to help with the family restaurant, and the family, including Mia's toddler twin brothers, has to live with Mia's other grandmother. Her father was building a house for them in Sacramento, but something is amiss with the financing, and Mia is discovers that the family might lose the house because of Luke Martin, an unscrupulous developer. Mia was born in Half Moon Bay, but doesn't know the story surrounding that time; Drew does, but doesn't quite suspect that Mia was the other baby born when he was, and that the two share a past. Once they meet, the two become friends. Since Mia was thinking of doing cross country in Sacramento, she goes along with Drew and his father on their runs. There's something up with Pete, who is stumbling more and dropping things, and Mia is alarmed when she sees him at the pharmacy with a lot of prescriptions. When the two find a flyer for a local half marathon, they decide to compete in it. Mia finds out that Martin often runs the race, and plans to approach him about how he has damaged her family with his sketchy business dealings. There's a lot going on for both families, but with each other's friendship, Drew and Mia find a way to train for their race and support each other through personal difficulties. 
Strengths: There's a lot to be said for modeling resiliency and agency in middle grade literature. Yes, life can be difficult. Parents get sick, grandparents die, and families lose their homes. It's good to see these issues treated with dignity but also a bit of hopefulness. The inclusion of cross country running is a great way to show this; it's a hard sport, especially training for a half marathon, but it does require young people to develop a certain amount of grit. I especially liked that both Mia and Drew sometimes put their families' best interests ahead of their own, and both were not overly irritated with much younger siblings, but were competent in taking care of them. Drew misses Isaac, but looks for ways to spend his time without him. When Isaac comes back for a bit, the two reconnect in a natural way that bodes well for their continued friendship despite the distance. Mia misses her father, but tries to make the best of her time in Half Moon Bay. I have a lot of respect for the ending, even though it wasn't what I thought would happen. This was an oddly intriguing read that kept me interested, even though it made me rather sad. 
Weaknesses: Even though there are a lot of challenges, this is generally upbeat. That said, the inclusion of Our Town philosophy in this is a gut punch!
What I really think: I wish there had been a little bit more about running, and perhaps one less majorly sad thing. This is a great title about friends and family that will be a hit with fans of Fry's Losing It or Messner's The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z


  1. I haven't seen this story, but it sounds like such a powerful read, and I'm glad so many aspects resonated with you (even the unexpected ending)! Thanks so much for the thoughtful review, Karen!

  2. I’m excited to read this!