cover image My Jasper June

My Jasper June

Laurel Snyder. Walden Pond, $16.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-283662-5

Leah Davidson, 13, lives in a tight-knit Atlanta neighborhood—“one big family,” neighbors call it. But ever since last summer, when her brother Sam drowned, Leah’s parents have become ghostlike, and the closeness she once felt with her family and best friends has disappeared. Now, facing a long and lonely summer at home, Leah is immediately intrigued by the red-headed girl she meets while wandering through a nearby farm. Jasper is gregarious, adventurous, and possessing emotional intelligence beyond her age, qualities that help Leah to shed her grief and guilt. But as Leah learns that Jasper has a past she wants to leave behind as well, she grapples with how to protect her friend while keeping her secrets. Snyder tackles heavy topics (death and grief, abuse and homelessness) straightforwardly in this coming-of-age story. Her adept characterization of Jasper, whose hope and sincerity are palpable, offers buoyancy, and the joyful, almost ethereal friendship the two girls form is refreshingly and intensely honest. Snyder maintains a languid, unhurried pace that evokes the lazy days of summer and crescendos in a meaningful, bittersweet ending. A candid story about two teens who find solace and strength in each other. Ages 8–12. [em]Agent: Tina Dubois, ICM Partners. (Sept.) [/em]