Canadian Children's Book Centre's Reviews > Summer of Fire

Summer of Fire by Karen Bass
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Feb 07, 12


Reviewed by Lisa Doucet

Sixteen-year-old Del is far from excited about the prospect of spending her entire
summer in Germany with her older sister and her sister’s husband. Del views this trip as a punishment that has been inflicted upon her by her parents who just don’t understand her and are clearly at their wit’s end. How much fun can she hope to have with Cassandra, the perfect older sister whose carefully organized lifestyle doesn’t allow for spontaneity – or mistakes? Fortunately Luise, the older lady who lives downstairs, offers Del a project when she asks her to read a set of old family diaries. Del becomes deeply engrossed in the story of a teen girl’s sad and difficult life in Hamburg during World War II. She also becomes very interested in Luise’s grandson Felix, who just might make this summer memorable after all – but only if Del can control her impulse to run away whenever things get tough.

As in her first novel, Run Like Jager, Karen Bass weaves two separate stories into this single narrative, allowing contemporary teens to relate to both Del and her modern day frustrations, as well as 16-year-old Garda, a pregnant teen struggling to get by in 1942. The challenges and hardships that Garda faced when shunned and sent away by her family are made very stark and real to readers of the present day. They will sympathize with both young women while being afforded an opportunity to read about the Second World War from the point of view of a frightened young German woman who struggled to understand what was going on around her even as her own small world seemed to be falling apart. While the drama in Del’s life seems somewhat overblown when viewed alongside Garda’s circumstances, this is a compelling read that offers teens two very different young women and their stories to ponder.

Canadian Children's Book News (Winter 2010, Vol. 33, No. 1)
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