Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Summer of May by Cecilia Galante

May is in trouble again. Big trouble. She has two options: either be expelled from school or retake English in summer school. She decides on the latter but it is with her least favorite teacher, Movado the Avocado. May is mouthy, resentful, and furious. But she’s been furious for the past 18 months so just add it to her already long list of things that make her angry.

She’s furious with her mom for leaving them. She’s furious at her dad for not being around. She’s furious at her grandma for staying in her room all day in bed with the door closed. She’s furious with her old friends at school. She’s furious with the school principal and English teacher. Mad May is one unhappy girl… When she spray-paints a teachers room for humiliating her, she ends up in serious trouble. She spends it with the teacher who humiliated her in the first place and the two become unlikely friends.

The author captures May’s anger really well in her character as she lashes out at everyone. I did think some of the characters were preachy in parts especially Olive who doesn’t sound like a teenager but instead an adult counselor telling May how to deal with her feelings. The author has Olive’s mom be a counselor so that it looks like Olive’s learned from her, but it was too sophisticated for a twelve-year-old. May is a jerk to many people in this book; however, she does show kindness to her grandma who is very fragile and suffering from depression and she has fun with Olive like a typical kid. It’s pretty obvious what happened to May’s mom and why she is so angry. In that regard, the plot is predictable but the characters help move it along. There are also some improbable things that happen in the plot, such as May remembering her mom as an infant and May’s punishment. Also, the reader never really finds out what awful thing May said to Olive when they argued. The plot seemed forced in spots such as when the teacher tells her story and the reader figures out her motivations for teaching May that summer.

There are some deep themes in the book but they are not explored in great depth which makes it okay for younger kids to read. The part where May steals and doesn’t know why, except she’s so angry and sad, is interesting. Most of the characters are trying to deal with their grief. The author was trying to add tension to the story by hiding the fact that the mom has died but it pretty easy figuring that out right away. Why else would May be that bonkers? I think the beginning would have been stronger if the reader knew that fact up front. The characters drive this book which makes it an enjoyable read.

Reading Level 5.3
:-):-):-) 3 out of 5 Smileys

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