Saturday, August 2, 2014

Three Bird Summer - Sara St. Antoine

Three Bird Summer - Sara St. Antoine
Three Bird Summer by Sara St. Antoine
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication Date: May 13, 2014
Source/Format: Netgalley (Thanks, Candlewick!) || e-galley
[I received this book for review from the publisher. This in no way affects the thoughts expressed in my review.]

For as long as he can remember, Adam and his parents have spent their summers at his grandmother’s rustic cabin on Three Bird Lake. But this year will be different. There will be no rowdy cousins running around tormenting Adam. There will be no Uncle John or Aunt Jean. And there'll be no Dad to fight with Mom. This year, the lake will belong just to Adam.

But then Adam meets Alice, the girl next door, who seems to want to become friends. Alice looks just like the aloof, popular girls back home—what could he and she possibly have in common?

Turns out, Alice isn't like the girls back home. She's frank, funny, and eager for adventure. And when Adam's grandma starts to leave strange notes in his room—notes that hint at a hidden treasure somewhere at the lake and a love from long ago—Alice is the one person he can rely on to help solve the mysteries of Three Bird Lake. (from Goodreads)

Summers are magical. That’s how I’ve felt about the summertime ever since I was a little girl! Even though the cold has its merits, there’s nothing quite like the warm weather, long days, and chill vibe of summer.

Three Bird Summer is about a boy named Adam, who is spending his summer with his mother and grandmother in their family’s summer home – a beautiful lakeside property. It’s set to be just like any other summer for Adam, except for one thing: they have new neighbors, who happen to have a daughter his age named Alice.

Isn’t it interesting how the smallest things can change the course of an entire life? Alice is an unexpected (and initially not very welcome) development in Adam’s summer. Both, however, were easy for me to relate to for different reasons. Adam was a loner, preferring his own company over others (or occasionally the company of books). Alice was adventurous and curious, determined to do things. One thing they share in common? A love for their families.

Their friendship blossoms tentatively, finding footholds in their enjoyment of the outdoors and a vulnerability and loneliness they can relate to in each other. It wasn’t a perfect summer; it was a summer of adventure, which I think is even better. Adam grows up, family issues are unraveled and an actual adventure in the form of hunting for “treasure” takes place too.

Apart from the friendship, family also plays a big role in this novel. Adam’s parents are separated, with his dad mostly checking in on the phone and his mother working hard to make ends meet. His grandmother, though a wonderful lady, is stubborn and refuses to admit that she’s starting to suffer from some of the things that come with old age. The dynamics between the family members were done very well by St. Antoine, so much so that their family seemed pretty real to me.

While I enjoyed it, there was just one thing I wasn’t too keen on. The pacing felt slow and disjointed at the beginning. I worried a little that this would prevent me from enjoying or continuing it, but thankfully, it picked up a little once Alice came into the picture. Perhaps the author meant for this to show how different things were once Alice showed up, family issues were revealed and the mysterious “treasure” came into play? Even so, I’m still not a big fan.

Three Bird Summer was, in all, a delightful contemporary. It’s a quieter story among the middle grade books filled with fantastic or funny adventures, but there was just something about Adam’s story that drew me in. I enjoyed this summer-themed read, and think many others will feel the same way too.

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