Review of The Melancholy of Summer

The Melancholy of Summer The Melancholy of Summer
by Louisa Onomé
High School    Feiwel    320 pp.
5/23    9781250823564    $19.99
e-book ed.  9781250823571    $11.99

In this absorbing novel, a Nigerian Canadian girl navigating tumultuous circumstances learns to trust friends and family. Suspected of fraud, her parents have become fugitives; Summer first lives on her own and then at the homes of friends, looking forward to the legal “true freedom” that will come with her approaching eighteenth birthday. Her outward aloofness and attitude that she can handle being abandoned and betrayed belie her longing for a stable home. When a social worker discovers her situation, Summer is sent to live with a cousin, Olu, whom she barely knows. Olu is only two years older than Summer; a popular singer in Japan, she now resides in Toronto. The relationship between the cousins is fraught with tension as Summer continues to rebuff Olu’s attempts to support her, and she learns that Olu has consequential problems of her own and plans to return to Japan. A traumatic incident with a family member precipitates a period of reflection that leads Summer to make a life-changing decision and to realize what matters most. Onomé’s skill at conveying the complexity of teenage emotions is notable. Her sympathetic portrayal of Summer as a teen who, because of past experiences, is guarded in her relationships with adults and sometimes with peers is both authentic and believable in a resonant coming-of-age story.

Pubissue-From the May/June 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Pauletta Brown Bracy
Pauletta Brown Bracy is professor of library science at North Carolina Central University. She is chair of the 2015-2017 Coretta Scott King Book Awards committee and serves on the 2017 Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards committee.

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