SallySnowtiger's Reviews > A Summer to Die

A Summer to Die by Lois Lowry
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Nov 27, 09

bookshelves: realistic-fiction-chapter-books
Read in November, 2009

A Summer to Die
Realistic Fiction
Grade 7-9

The photograph on the cover is of a faceless girl, faceless because she is photographed from the neck down, seated and holding a fragile looking flower in her hand. I think the cover is quite symbolic of the story that deals with the fragility of life. The illustrator, Jenni Oliver, uses simple black and white ink illustrations at the beginning of every chapter. All of the illustrations depict scenes from a home, such as a loaf of bread and teapot or a bed and dresser, but the two main characters are never illustrated. The story is about two sisters, Meg, 13, and Molly, 15, who are nothing alike. The family moves to a small house in country and the girls have to share a room. Meg is very envious of her popular, beautiful sister and annoyed that she has to share a room with her because now they can’t “ignore each other”. Lowry does an amazing job of addressing a lot of complex emotions that adolescents will be able to relate to; the characters are very believable, and this is a very powerful, well-written story. Students in the pre-teen years will really enjoy this book because they will be able to relate to the emotions and subjects this story addresses: sibling rivalry, insecurities, envy, fear, guilt, identity, losses, gains, struggles, love, death and family. Lowry addresses these topics in this book in a way that is sensitive to the audience’s interests, and she writes a great story appropriate to her audience’s reading level.

Grades 7-9
Language Arts/ Art
The themes of identity, individuality and relationships are expressed in the two sisters, Meg and Molly, as well is in a lot of the characters in this story. Maria tells Meg "You know, Meg, I had the name Abbott all my life. I won a music award in high school, and I was Maria Abbott. I was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in college, something I worked hard for, and I was Maria Abbott. When I realized I wanted to marry Ben, I also realized that I didn't want to stop being Maria Abbott." Students can write a paper on how the two sisters or how any character's sense of identity is formed or changed by their relationships with others. What metaphors and symbols does the author, Lois Lowry, use in this story and what emotions can be identified in this story?
Art
Meg is the photographer and Molly is the cheerleader. The subject of personal identity and individuality in one’s family and in society is something that many artists like to address in various artistic media from music to poetry. Students can research a photographer, painter, illustrator, poet, or musician who explores this topic and create a collage about that artist.
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