The Summer of Owen Todd

Tony Abbott. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $16.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-374-30550-5
Fifth grade has just ended, and 11-year-old Owen is ready for go-kart racing, baseball, and trips to Cape Cod’s beaches with his best friend Sean. But the summer takes a horrifying turn after Owen learns that Sean is being sexually abused by Paul, a 20-something man from church who Sean’s working mother hired to babysit him, because of her son’s diabetes. As the abuse escalates and video cameras get involved, Owen is desperate but afraid to help his friend; Sean has sworn him to secrecy, not wanting the abuse to become public, and has threatened to kill himself if Owen tells anyone. Abbott (the Copernicus Legacy series) nails the casually jokey relationship between Owen and Sean, the way that it is slowly poisoned by what’s happening (“Every time I get dressed or undressed I think of what Sean told me”), and how trapped and powerless both boys feel. It’s a difficult, important, and possibly lifesaving story of children forced into terrible situations, as well as what real loyalty and friendship look like. Wishing books like this weren’t necessary doesn’t make them less so. Ages 10–14. Agent: Erica Rand Silverman, Stimola Literary Studio. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/28/2017
Release date: 10/17/2017
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