Nora Raleigh Baskin has done it again....written another realistic fiction tween novel that is wonderful. Her newest novel, The Summer Before Boys, is a book I can see my own daughter reading as well as many of my students.
Julia and Eliza are best friends, spending the summer together. Julia's mother signed up for the National Guard before 9/11, and was then called up to serve her country. Although Julia loves spending time with Eliza and her family, she misses her mother and hopes for her safe return. During the summer months, the girls spend time playing games and hanging out. When a boy enters the picture and Julia develops a crush on him, the girls' friendship is impacted. Baskin is able to write a story about the normal things girls go through in the process of growing up, creating characters tweens will relate to. Baskin also shares facts about women who have served in different wars and been impacted by wars - sometimes as innocent bystanders. I loved this aspect of the book. Julia shares this information about the way in which women have been affected by war because of her own mother's involvement. However, this also highlighted how many children may have been impacted by the loss of a mother-whether for a short time while they served their country, or by sacrificing their lives.
The Summer Before Boys is a book about friendship, first crushes and a first kiss, as well as a look at the way many families and children have coped with the deployment of a parent.