Book Review : Summerlost
By Ally Condie
It’s the first real summer since the devastating accident that killed Cedar’s father and younger brother, Ben. But now Cedar and what’s left of her family are returning to the town of Iron Creek for the summer. They’re just settling into their new house when a boy named Leo, dressed in costume, rides by on his bike. Intrigued, Cedar follows him to the renowned Summerlost theatre festival. Soon, she not only has a new friend in Leo and a job working concessions at the festival, she finds herself surrounded by mystery. The mystery of the tragic, too-short life of the Hollywood actress who haunts the halls of Summerlost. And the mystery of the strange gifts that keep appearing for Cedar.
Infused with emotion and rich with understanding, Summerlost is the touching middle grade debut from Ally Condie, the international bestselling author of the Matched series, that highlights the strength of family and personal resilience in the face of tragedy. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)
Adult Point of View
First, I love the cover. It evokes a wistful memory of my own summers and the freedom of riding a bike.
Summerlost is a book that will be enjoyed by adults more than tweens. And I did enjoy it immensely, but I am also from Utah and have attended the Utah Shakespeare Festival and have an acquaintance with the force behind the Festival, Fred Adams. Summerlost theater and its surrounds could easily be called Cedar City, Utah – a fictional tale in a real world setting. I just don’t know if a reader will feel as connected to Summerlost if they aren’t familiar with the Festival.
Themes that all readers can identify with in Summerlost:
Cedar, and her family, are coping with the loss of her dad and autistic brother. Grieving and finding solace is a valuable theme to explore, and Condie has her characters working through their problems without being overly obsessive or maudlin.
Friendship is another theme used. It’s refreshing to have Cedar and Leo become friends rather than trying to write them into a love triangle. These friends have to exercise forgiveness and build trust. Friendship is valued.
Mystery or curiosity could be considered a theme. Cedar and Leo are curious about the unexpected death of a Hollywood star who had performed at the Summerlost theater. They go to extreme measures to discover her secrets and hope to see her ghost. Where would we be without curiosity to solve life’s mysteries, even though their curiosity had no meaningful purpose. In an odd way Cedar and Leo have hope from delving into this mystery. Hope for their future and hope for others.
I think Summerlost is worth reading and I would love to hear your thoughts too, particularly if you have never been to the Utah Shakespeare Festival.
3.5 out of 5 stars
- the Mother
If you liked this try Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool, A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck and The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly.