Mark's Reviews > The Summer I Learned to Fly

The Summer I Learned to Fly by Dana Reinhardt
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's review
Mar 27, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: young-adult-literature, coming-of-age
Read from March 15 to 18, 2011

"At school, with my classmates and friends, I had to decode the hidden meaning of words, to search for what Ms. Bethel in our English class called intentionality. There was what people said, and then there was what they were thinking. Take that first lunch at Antonio's when Georgia said Shut up, when what she really meant was Say more.

One thing I knew for sure was that boys never came out and told girls they liked them, and girls certainly never told this to boys.

'Good,' he said. 'I'm glad we got that settled.'

I drained the pasta and grated the cheese over it. I slid the plate in front of him. For some reason I felt totally at ease. Even my sheep pajamas seemed less a crime against humanity.

'So will you blow off work and spend the day with me tomorrow?"

'Of course,' I said.

'All right!' He put his hand up for a high five and then caught my hand midslap and squeezed it tight. It was friendly. It lasted only a second. And it was the single most romantic moment of my life."

It's gotten to the point where I will put off pretty much everything for a new Dana Reinhardt novel. She never disappoints, and this title is no exception. Drew Robin Solo is a young girl caught just on the threshold of growing up. She lives with her mother, and spends most of her time helping in her mom's newly-opened gourmet cheese shop. There, she crushes on her older co-worker, Nick, cares for a pet rat named Hum, and meets a mysterious boy, Emmett Crane, one night in the alley behind the store. Drew has never imagined her life to be anything close to exciting, so she's drawn to Emmett by his stories, his kindness, and the need to know more about him. As Drew learns Emmett's background, and his reasons for being in town that summer, she learns the true meanings of sacrifice, family, and friendship.

This is a beautiful book, and one that Reinhardt has said is probably the closest to the one she's always wanted to write. In her more recent novels, she's tackled bigger issues (the war in Iraq, for one), but this is a quiet, easily-paced story of friendship and growing up. Drew and Emmett's relationship is enjoyable to watch, because while they teeter on the edge of romance, at the heart of their relationship is a developing trust and friendship. There are funny and heartbreaking moments in this book (I never thought I would tear up at the release of a pet rat), and at the end of the novel, Drew still has probably just as many questions as she has answers, about Emmett, her deceased father, and her relationship with her mother. But still, as I finished the book, I knew that Drew would be alright, and that I was in a better place for having read this novel. Reinhardt employs her usual simple, yet evocative description, and her pitch-perfect dialogue. Readers looking for a tremendous story of growing up will not be disappointed.
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message 1: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim Yes, but, you can't carry a rat around w/o smelling like rat pee. As a rat owner, this bothered me.

Mark See, now that's the kind of detail I would have naturally overlooked. :)

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