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  • Writer's pictureThe Fiction Fox

Review: Half Moon Summer - Elaine Vickers

Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary, Novel in Verse

Published: Peachtree Publishing, June 2023

My rating: 4.5/5 stars

“That’s how the big changes happen: whether you like it or not.”

Told in beautiful language, Half Moon Summer is a heartfelt middle grade novel about friendship, family, and finding balance between not giving up and letting go what you cannot change.

The summer of Seventh Grade brings along many big changes for 12-year old Drew and Mia, that neither of them have asked for. Drew spends his first summer without his best friend Isaac, and finds himself coping with the news of his fathers recent diagnosis on his own. Mia has to divide her worries between her dying grandmother and her fathers financial troubles that threaten to lose them their family-house. The two strike up a friendship over a shared goal: training to run a half-marathon at the end of the summer. Each of them runs for reasons of their own, but along the way they learn that some tasks are to big to carry on your own, and you need the shoulder of a friend to lean on.

Half Moon Summer shines in its quiet moments and shows how these small displays of family-love and friendship are the once that matter most in the end. There are few big flashy moments or perilous adventures, but there is an emotional, character driven journey to be had here.

The story is told in dual POV, Drew’s sections being told in prose, and Mia’s in verse. The fact that this isn’t stated explicitly on the cover or publishers synopsis is a missed opportunity in my opinion, as I think this would help the book find its audience. Novels in verse aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, so I feel like “fair warning” will help with managing expectations and prevent disappointment. I personally really enjoyed the mixed format and loved the authors writing in general. The book is packed to the brim with quotable lines, beautiful prose and wisdoms beyond the years of its protagonists.

Therein lies one of the few complaints I have about the book. Without spoiling the story: the way Drew handles his fathers situation by the end of the book didn’t feel fully authentic to me. Admirable, yes, but maybe not too realistic for a 12-year-old-boy who’s only gotten this big news sprung on him. Grief in all its forms is a journey that takes time, and I personally would’ve loved to see Drew start that journey, but not necessarily being rushed to the end in order for the story to complete his arc. It’s okay to show kids that these things aren’t easy, and that it’s normal to take your time.

Apart from that minor point of critique, I wholeheartedly enjoyed and recommend this novel.

Many thanks to Peachtree Publishing for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Find this book here on Goodreads.


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