cover image Summer and Bird

Summer and Bird

Katherine Catmull. Dutton, $16.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-525-95346-3

After a bewildering day that begins with 12-year-old Summer following the trail of her vanished parents and ends at a bonfire in the forest with Bird, her nine-year-old sister, Summer wakes to find Bird has also abandoned her to follow a path "just for me." There is only the mysterious, elderly Ben for company, along with hints that birds hold the key%E2%80%94sometimes literally%E2%80%94to Summer's questions. Ben's kindhearted but murky guidance ("%C2%A0%E2%80%98It might mean just exactly that,' said Ben. %E2%80%98But it might also mean more than that'%C2%A0") doesn't last long, and then there are no reliable adults, no clear roads to follow as Summer struggles to piece together who she is now that the people who defined her are gone. With a fairy tale%E2%80%93tinged sadness reminiscent of Anne Ursu's Breadcrumbs, Catmull's debut is a melancholy quest fantasy with no trophy at the end; instead, Summer finds the most somber of adult realities. The book's greatest strength lies in Catmull's ability to articulate the disorientation and sense of injustice that accompany loss. Ages 10%E2%80%93up. Agent: David Dunton, Harvey Klinger. (Oct.)