Sunday, August 12, 2012
45. Summer of the Gypsy Moths - Sara Pennypacker
for: Middle Grades (ages 9-12)
1st line/s: "The earth spins at a thousand miles an hour. Sometimes when I remember this, it's all I can do to stay upright --- the urge to flatten myself to the ground and clutch hold is that strong."
Setting: Current day Cape Cod, at the Linger Longer Cottage Colony.
OSS: 11 year-old Stella and 12-year-old Angel, both foster children , secretly run the Linger Longer Cottage Colony when Stella's great-aunt dies and they bury her in the garden, pretending she's still around, so that they won't be sent back to the foster care system.
It's quite a premise, but written beautifully and believably. The girls have no way to get to a grocery story, so they almost starve. Little glimmers of help come in unexpected ways - people leaving food in the refrigerator and cupboards when they leave their rental, digging clams on the beach, using the great-aunt's credit card to order pizza delivery. They have no problem cleaning the four cottages and dealing with the cottage's problems - Stella has been a Heloise and her Hints addict for years. And George, the fisherman-owner of the cottages checks in every so often to mow the lawn and take care of any problems that the girls can't handle. Stella even figures out how to take care of the garden that her aunt Louise planted, including her much-loved blueberry bushes, saving them from the infestation of gypsy moths.
SPOILER: Even the death of Louise is handled in a believable way, from what it looks like, what it smells like, and how they figured out what to do with her body. This is a delightful story. It has somewhat of a "pat" ending, but it's totally believable, too. (And thank goodness Stella's flighty, possibly bipolar does NOT have a miraculous recovery in order to be able to care for her child.)
This was a wonderful story, about how friendship grows and what the real meaning of "family" is.