March 29, 2011

Memories of Summer

Memories of Summer
by Ruth White

Thirteen-year-old Lyric and her older sister Summer are adjusting to city life in Flint, Michigan, where their father hopes to find work in one of the new car factories. Used to their small-town Virginian upbringing, it takes a while for the family to get settled. Lyric eventually makes new friends, but not Summer. She drops out of school, neglects her appearance, and has conversations with people who aren't there. Lyric loves her sister but finds herself feeling increasingly frustrated, embarrassed and angry about Summer's schizophrenia. When Summer becomes too difficult to handle, her father is forced to institutionalize her (the story takes place in 1955). Lyric is left with her memories of how Summer used to be.

Readers may be upset at the sad ending, but it doesn't detract from the novel's strength. Lyric's emotions are very honest, as are the reactions of strangers, who are unintentionally cruel. But the family's friends are kind and the doctors are understanding and compassionate. A very thoughtful and tender book.

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