Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Book Review Club - A Million Miles from Boston

A Million Miles from Boston
Karen Day
middle grade

This is the first book my daughter and I have reviewed together, which has been a fun experience. We read it at the same time, talked about the story, and now are collaborating on the review.

 A Million Miles from Boston is a gentle summer story about a girl, Lucy, who spends her summer in Pierson Point, Maine. The emotional arc of the story deals with Lucy opening up to accept a new stepmom in her life. She also learns not everyone is as they seem. That even a bully has a reason why he acts the way he does, and that they can make good friends, when given a chance. 

Stacy: I enjoyed the easy, laid-back feel of the story's flow, getting lost in long summer days, relaxing, kayaking around the coast, and the other outdoor activities Day builds into her story. The flirtation with romance is sweet. This is a great beach read that nonetheless has a gentle, literary feel to it. Not too taxing but not too sugary either. A nice balance.

The emotional arc also feels true. It's hard to open up to a new woman who threatens to"replace" a parent who has died, no matter the child's age. Reaching that arc, however, felt somewhat forced. Day drew it out across the entire summer, climaxing just before the family leaves the Point. While it fit with the timetable - i.e. summer - of the story, Lucy's continual rejection of Julia began to feel worn. There needed to be more development, more twists and turns, or the emotional climax needed to be reached faster.

Bella:  Karen Day's novel, A Million Miles from Boston, is about as good as it gets in the sense of making you long for summer.  It makes you want to be there with Lucy and her friends and experience all the things they are experiencing.  In the book, I like that Lucy hates Ian, but in the end they practically become best friends.  It gives the book a page turning curiosity, because you always want to know what will happen next between them.  The part that I didn't really enjoy and that I think was made a little too strongly was that Lucy disliked Julia so much.  She lost her mom when she was six and feels almost guilty about her death.  However, I still think she should give Julia, or whomever her dad likes, a chance.  In the end though, things begin to warm between them and life starts getting better.  I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a good story of change, family and true friendship.

For more summer delights, stroll over to Barrie Summy's website. She's serving them up sweet and neat.