My Mixed-Up Berry Blue Summer

Jennifer Gennari. Houghton Mifflin, $15.99 (128p) ISBN 978-0-547-57739-5
Set against the backdrop of the legalization of civil unions for gay couples in Vermont in 2000, Gennari’s debut novel spends the summer with 12-year-old June Farrell, an accomplished pie maker who is still getting used to living with her mother’s partner, Eva. “I understood that Mom went out on dates with women, and sometimes I met them. But no one lasted. Not until Eva.” June’s uneasiness is compounded when her mother and Eva announce that they are planning a civil union ceremony, just as a local antigay “Take Back Vermont” campaign is gaining traction, testing June’s friendships and emotions. Readers won’t have to look hard to find metaphors that allude to June’s turmoil—the churning waters of Lake Champlain, a burnt-pie smell that “seemed to linger for days”—and Gennari doesn’t gloss over June’s discomfort with her mother’s relationship, her unpleasantness toward Eva, or her desire for a father. It’s a realistic account of a family coming together under stress, as June finds inner strength that brings her several triumphs and helps her stand up for her family. Ages 9–12. Agent: Alison Picard. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/16/2012
Release date: 05/08/2012
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