Author: Vikki VanSickle
Synopsis: A famous rock star, a family secret and a boy with a great smile make for one unforgettable summer.
It’s 1962, and thirteen-year-old Reenie Starr comes alive the minute guests begin to arrive at her family’s summer resort. She dreams of the day she can run Sandy Shores, and she spends her time helping out at the resort, swimming, climbing trees, and singing under the stars.
One day, Reenie’s mother announces that she thinks the resort could use some entertainment. She invites Gwen, her best friend’s almost-grown daughter, to come and teach a dance class. Although Gwen seems sad and remote, Reenie’s thrilled to have her there.
As Reenie starts to learn more about the world beyond Sandy Shores, she comes up with a plan that could really put it on the map. She also finds herself caught between the simpler world of her childhood and all of the wonderful new discoveries (boys) and heartaches (boys) that growing up can bring. Reenie thought she wanted Sandy Shores to never change, but after this summer nothing will ever be the same again.
It’s not secret that I adore middle grade books, especially ones that are realistic and thoughtful. But you know what I love even more? Middle grade novels that tackle the past, in this case in the late 1960s in Ontario. Vikki VanSickle has written a wonderful story about a young Canadian girl looking to learn the truth about her family, and one remarkable summer she may never forget.
First odd, I loved Reenie. Her voices was clear, infectious, and I loved how methodical she was. She wants a role model, she wants someone to look up to, and when her mother walks out on her (for a week, interestingly), she has a hard time trying to understand what would make her favourite role model just up and leave her.
This book has a lot to do with family secrets, and while they aren’t difficult to figure out, I love the overall approach. Nothing is ever easy to learn or accept and Reenie and her sister really struggle throughout this story to understand a lot of their mother’s odd behaviour. There’s just so much heart in this story, and while the warm and fuzzies don’t appear until the very end, the book plays with your emotions on numerous occasions, reminding the reader that nothing is ever simple.
I devoured this book in an afternoon and it’s a great summer read. I loved the choice of setting with it being a family-owned resort, because those are so typical in Canada as summer “getaways” for people who really can’t afford big vacations. At the end of the day VanSickle writes a beautiful and thoughtful story about growing up and comes to terms with newfound changes that are… unexpected shall we say. I honestly cannot wait to track down her Words That Start with B series, because I think I will probably be in love with it too.
But honestly, if you want and sweet story with a loveable protagonist, Reenie really is your girl. Her whole family truly is a joy to read about, and the secrets are worth the discovery.