Summer of the Brave

Summer of the Brave by Amy Noelle Parks is a heartwarming middle grade. Lilla has been challenged to be brave, and in the Summer of the Brave, she does her best.

“Most people say ‘girl’ is a noun,” I say. “But last year, my English teacher said it’s really a verb, and I think she’s right.”

From the GoodReads blurb:

Twelve-year-old Lilla Baxter-Willoughby doesn’t lie. She’s just a little bit…selective. To keep her parents happy, Lilla hides how much she hates moving back and forth between their houses, and she stomps down her doubts about that elite high school they’re pushing her toward. To keep peace with her best friend Vivi, Lilla doesn’t share that she got the junior camp counselor job that Vivi wanted. And even though–no, especially because–he seems into it, Lilla does not tell the boy she grew up with about all the little sparks that flared up inside her the day she noticed his Suddenly Adorable Freckles. When Vivi dares Lilla to start telling the truth as part of their Summer of Brave, Lilla hesitates. Because if she says out loud what she really wants, her whole life might crash down around her. And she doesn’t need that. Except maybe she does

“My body feels dangerous.”

This book touched on so many things that I remember having gone through as a child and was not addressed in the books I read. From Lilla getting catcalled for the first time and its aftermath to friendships and boys getting frustrating and scary, this book really holds a special place in my heart. Growing up is incredibly difficult, and we need more stories for young girls that tells them they’re not alone in the experience. Lilla’s friends made me smile, and their endless support of her made my heart warm. There were moments they fought, of course, but that’s also just a more significant part of growing up. Lilla is supported but still feels like she has to be perfect, and I think that’s something to really make a note of.

“You are a very quiet force of nature.”

The characters in this book are incredibly well fleshed out. The only one that we don’t get a ton on is Knox, but this book is more about girlhood, and I understand its reasoning. It really touches on how we as women are sometimes our biggest enemies in the grand scheme of promoting one another in an accessible and understandable way to the intended age group. Lilla learns to find her voice in this, and sometimes that means wanting to dress cute and do Colorguard and not pick art over science and vice versa. Her parents’ divorce was also written so that I felt realistic in the current climate of parenthood. Parents have all the therapy and books available to them but don’t always seem to listen.

“I am enough.”

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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