cover image The Great Good Summer

The Great Good Summer

Liz Garton Scanlon. S&S/Beach Lane, $16.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-4814-1147-9

“It’s the surprise and mystery of it that makes us want to watch,” quips Ivy Green, age 12, about watching remote-control airplanes fly, though she could just as easily be talking about her story itself. Ivy is a classically risk-averse good girl, but when her mother runs off with a storefront preacher named Hallelujah Dave, she and an unlikely new friend (and borderline crush) break out of their shells and break all kinds of rules to restore order to Ivy’s family life. The real strength of this folksy novel, the first from picture-book author Scanlon (All the World), is its earnest, nonsaccharine treatment of what it means to have faith and to question it. As Ivy’s trust in her mother is shaken, so is her faith in God (“We wouldn’t be in this fix in the first place if it weren’t for God”). Readers will be rewarded with both genuine adventure and intense reflection as Ivy finds a balance between safe comfort and disquieting wonder. Ages 8–12. Agent: Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary Agency. (May)