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Review of Umbrella Summer

graff_umbrella summerUmbrella Summer
by Lisa Graff
Intermediate     Geringer/HarperCollins     236 pp.
6/09     978-0-06-143187-6     $15.99
Library ed. 978-0-06-143188-3     $16.89

With the same deftness she demonstrated in The Thing About Georgie (rev. 3/07), Graff immediately engages the reader with the main character. Here’s Annie Richards, about to ride her bike to the local drug store. Elbow pads? Check. Kneepads? Check. Helmet? Check. Ace bandages? Check. She’s now ready to take the safe but more time-consuming route on her mission to buy Band-Aids. Why is Annie so fearful? The previous year her older brother, Jared, died unexpectedly from a rare heart condition, and Annie’s at a loss as to how to cope. Her mother cleans obsessively, her father hides behind newspapers and magazines, and Annie reads about terrible illnesses and their symptoms. She’s not searching for sympathy, and she certainly doesn’t want any of those “dead-brother looks,” but “there was a lot of . . . dangerous stuff that most people didn’t even think to worry about. You had to watch out for everything.” However, while Annie may be prepared, she’s not healing. That healing comes slowly, helped along by understanding friends and a close-knit community of complex, concerned (but never cloying) characters. Expect tears, but also expect to cheer for Annie’s recovery as she gradually learns to honor Jared’s life and care for her own.

From the July/August 2009 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Betty Carter

Betty Carter, an independent consultant, is professor emerita of children’s and young adult literature at Texas Woman’s University.

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