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The Gypsy Moth Summer

3.23  ·  Rating details ·  1,074 ratings  ·  248 reviews
It is the summer of 1992 and a gypsy moth invasion blankets Avalon Island. Ravenous caterpillars disrupt early summer serenity on Avalon, an islet off the coast of Long Island--dropping onto novels left open on picnic blankets, crawling across the T-shirts of children playing games of tag and capture the flag in the island's leafy woods. The caterpillars become a relentles ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published June 6th 2017 by St. Martin's Press
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Average rating 3.23  · 
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 ·  1,074 ratings  ·  248 reviews

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Diane S ☔
May 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
Let me start with what I liked. The setting, the gardens, plants, mazes, flowers all beautifully described. Liked the character Julian, his son Brooks and young daughter. The chapters narrated but Julian were my favorite. Killed the young teen, Mandy but the rest of those outrageous, catty girls were just maddening.

This book tries to cover too much, adds in almost everything someone could find unappealing, objectionable. Animal cruelty, profanity, drug use and alcohol abuse, sexual situations,
Larry H
May 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley

The fact is, I'm not a fan of bugs. I recognize they're all God's creatures, I know that some bugs actually help the environment, and the demise of certain bugs can spell peril for our world, but that doesn't change the simple fact that (most) bugs creep me out. And don't even get me started if I see/feel one crawling on me.

I probably should have considered this when I decided to read Julia Fierro's The Gypsy Moth Summer, which takes place in the summer of 1992, when gypsy moths invade Avalon I
Julia Fierro
Feb 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
I've read it 20 times. At least. ...more
Apr 08, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, arc, 2017

”Before that summer of ’92, when the gypsy moths swarmed Avalon Island and Leslie Day Marshall, golden-headed prodigal daughter, returned with her black husband and brown children to claim her seat as First Lady, the island’s crimes were minor.”

The fictional Avalon Island, an islet off the coast of Long Island, is home to Grudder Aviation, where virtually all of those who call Avalon Island home are employed. It looms overhead of all on the island, like an ever-watchful paren
Suzanne Leopold (Suzy Approved Book Reviews)
Leslie Marshall returns to Avalon in the summer of 1992 with her African- American husband and their two children. Leslie has inherited her parents estate on the island and her father was once a key executive at Grudder Aviation. Grudder is the island’s biggest employer but environmental issues have tarnished its’ reputation.

The Marshalls immediately attract attention from folks on the island because they are perceived as different. Prior to their death, Leslie’s own parents did not accept her
Shawn Mooney (Shawn The Book Maniac)
I read just over half of this, and I will never get those five or six hours back. This story was told somewhat competently, but unfortunately the novel was full of clichés and cartoonishly stock characters. Oh, and I’m not sure what the author was up to, fixating so intensely on the sole adult African-American male’s genitalia. For all of these reasons, I couldn’t bring myself to finish.
Chris Wolak
Jun 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: review-copy
This novel has SO MUCH IN IT, but it didn't seem crowded to me. It seemed messy like life. Fierro is a beautiful writer. I love the way she conveys the best and the worst that we humans can be. There's violence (against women, kids, dogs, and gypsy moths) that at times is hard to take, but not gratuitous and never excruciatingly detailed. I didn't see some things coming and am disappointed how other things turned out -- again, like in life -- but in the end, I finished the book with a sense of s ...more
Kelli Innis
Aug 29, 2017 rated it did not like it
This was a huge disappointment. I was honestly angry at myself for finishing it. The writing was okay at best and irritating at worst. I found the whole thing to be very contrived. And I felt we were building towards something that never really materialized. Initially, I did enjoy the character development, but then I felt that we spent 99% of the book on that, and in the last chapter tried to make it look like something happened in only a couple of pages. And way too much sex. Teenager sex--cre ...more
Note to self: Don't book a trip to Avalon Island, off the coast of Long Island, especially when there is a gypsy moth invasion. Yuck and double yuck! I learned a bit more about gypsy moths, their habits, noise, and their unending excrement than I really wanted to in this book--although it certainly helped to build a tense and seething atmosphere for the story. If you think that the gypsy moths sound bad, you haven't met the citizens of Avalon Island, a community full of dark secrets and neighbor ...more
Yvonne (It's All About Books)

Finished reading: June 2nd 2017

"What good are the rules," Jules asked, "the laws, moral this and that, when you can't follow them and protect your family at the same time?"

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and St. Martin's Press in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

(view spoiler)
Kristina Hunter
Apr 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
With six different points of view, The Gypsy Moth Summer reminds me of an overgrown garden, where characters’ lives are like tangled roots that weave in and out of one another, desperate to feed and bloom.

Fierro’s prose is thick with detail; I often had to reread sentences several times, not an easy feat for a novel so long. Deconstructing her heavy sentences was worth it, however; I was transported back to the 90’s, mostly through the young and impressionable Maddie, ripe with the culture of h
Jun 01, 2017 added it
Shelves: net-galley, 2017
Gypsy Moth Summer takes place in the summer of 1992 on Avalon Island, where there is a gypsy moth invasion. But it's not only the gypsy moths during things upside down on the island, there's a new family. Leslie Day Marshall grew up on the island, but left and has now returned with her new family. Her husband, Jules, is African-American, and their children are biracial, and racism abounds on this very white island.

Teenager Maddie falls for Leslie's son Brooks and their relationship is intense a
Caeli Wolfson
May 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The rare book that reads deliciously as a perfect summer cocktail, yet confronts big, complex ideas headlong with bravery and grace. Avalon Island is dreamy, but it's also poisoned by racism and environmental toxins. Kids are falling in love while they're falling apart. It's 1992 and Kurt Cobain's voice is everywhere. The sand is hot and the waves are bucking. Every night, illicit parties pulse on the grounds of a certain mansion. You're invited. You won't be able to resist. The secrets of Avalo ...more
Dec 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I can't stop thinking about the characters of this novel. Told from several different points of view, The Gypsy Moth Summer is the story of summer 1992 on Avalon Island. From the gorgeously written prologue this book held me hypnotized with superb writing and a cast of characters that are all fascinating in their own way. This is Fierro's second novel and you can see her growing as an author in leaps and bounds! ...more
Jun 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Pensive, poignant and undeniably tragic!

In this latest novel by Fierro, she transports us to Avalon Island, an islet infested by not only the gypsy moth but small-town, small-minded politics, economics, and environmental consciousness.

The prose is vivid and exquisitely descriptive. The characters are destructive, materialistic and damaged. And the plot, which is ultimately about love, life, loss, cruelty, deception, familial dynamics, and vengeance has too many subplots and tackles too many issu
(3.5) It’s the summer of 1992 and a plague of gypsy moth caterpillars has hit Avalon Island, a community built around Grudder Aviation and packed with magnates’ mansions on the East side and factory workers’ accommodation on the West. But the creatures are just one of many threats to this would-be fairy tale world.

For Maddie Pencott LaRosa, it’s not just a simple Sweet Sixteen time of testing out drugs and sex at parties. Her grandfather “The Colonel,” the Grudder president, is back in town with
DJ Sakata
Favorite Quotes:

Penny had been far beyond the margins of Bitsy’s clique when a seizure in sixth-period chemistry led doctors to the tumor in her brain. A status that had scored Penny overnight popularity, and an invitation to join Bitsy’s crew — penned in Bitsy’s own bubbly script on her personalized stationery. Good for one official membership in the FRESHEST DOPEST gang of bitches at East High!

He knew he played that game to give his ego a charge when it felt like a dead battery, and while it f
La La
4.5 stars on the blog. I am not a fan of multiple POVs past two, and this book has five! I have been known to tolerate three, but above that it has always been bye bye for me. So, for this author to keep me reading enthusiastically until the end was a feat unto itself. Each POV has its own unique voice, so it isn't difficult to remember whom you are listening to.

The character voices are: a teenage girl, a middle aged man, an older woman, a middle aged woman, and a sixth grade aged boy. I found t
Lily S.
Jun 27, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 stars.

This book is really unique and atmospheric. Set on the island of Avalon told from different point of views. I wanted to write 'story' but it's more like scenes pinned together to draw out a picture about racism and what really drives people deep inside.

Leslie Day returns to the island with her black husband and their two kids, that is the main theme but it feels more like an excuse to put several pont of views in action. It's more about character development than anything else and di
Mar 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Gypsy Moth Summer places Julia Fierro firmly in the realm of writers like Larry Brown, Khaled Hosseini, and Ann Pancake -- a writer so capable of evoking a time and a place that there is little else to say on the matter. In layer after layer, she develops a deep, immersed sense of this strange island. Her prose, always measured, deft, and distinctly beautiful, wreaths an ornate and fascinating story, laureating her the unquestioned voice of Long Island in the 1990s. The Gypsy Moth Summer is ...more
Aug 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
What did I just read?! A rambling and superficial story with lots of (undeveloped) characters and unresolved issues. It's like the author has a check list of topics to touch on character types to include and went "check, check, check...". The moth connection could have been more developed. The book could have been so much more with much less. ...more
Monica Hills
Sep 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: modern-day
Different, interesting but crass. I'm still uncertain about how I feel about this book. I didn't love it but I wanted to find out what would happen. The ending left a lot to be desired. ...more
Jun 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Author Julia Fierro garnered critical praise for her debut novel, Cutting Teeth, about a group of preschool parents and a weekend they spend together on Long Island.

She managed to corral a large group of characters and make them believeable and interesting. In her new novel, The Gypsy Moth Summer, we once again get a multi-character saga, this time set in 1992 Avalon Island, a stand-in for Long Island.

Leslie has been estranged from her wealthy parents since she married Jules, an African-America
Aug 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's a reason people have preconceived notions about eccentrics on private islands. It's because they are usually distant and safely removed from our day to day. I am always delighted when an author inserts a subculture (moth character) which in this case flits in and out of this tale mirroring the cocoon people surviving the edges of their desperate lives. ...more
Philip Bailey
Apr 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Little bits of big issues, sex, bigotry, pollution, drugs and the character portrayals make for a great story. The people are upper class and lower class and some with no class at all. Picture an island populated with WASPs, some living in mansions and some living in the mansion’s caretaker’s cottage. Most of the characters are high school kids, some from uptown and some from the other side of the tracks. The antics remind me of my own high school days, although drugs were mostly unheard of then ...more
Katie B
Apr 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars

During the summer of 1992, gypsy moths invade Avalon Island. Grudder Aviation factory is the main source of employment on the island. Leslie Day Marshall inherits "The Castle" from her deceased parents and moves back to the island with her husband Jules and their children, Brooks and Eva. They become the talk of the town because Jules is African-American which doesn't go over well in the upscale, snobby community. Maddie Pencott LaRosa might be the granddaughter of a prominent family an
May 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
I can still hear the caterpillars crunching their way around the island. Ugh! But in a good way. The imagery of this story will stay with me for a long time, such was the stunning, superb writing.

There were a host of characters in this book, each so well developed and some became so dear to my heart, especially Maddie and Brooks who I was rooting for. Their young love was sweet and powerful and I loved watching it unfold. Others I didn't come to love as much but they had a specific purpose in t
Lolly K Dandeneau
Apr 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
via my blog
“He’d wanted to hate Avalon, to feel the same disgust he’d reserved for her parents, who lived as if Jules were dead and her children never born.”

The islanders can hear the feeding mouths of the voracious gypsy moth caterpillars that have invaded Avalon Island. Their bodies, and excrement covering their clothing, the grounds, and the people are left to wonder if the insects will eat every bit of vegetation on the island, leaving nothing behind bu
Apr 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fierro's GYPSY MOTH SUMMER is a beautiful exploration of racism, nationalism and class. Set in a small eastern seaside town whose industry revolves around the manufacturing of aircraft for the defense department, the story of one poignant and tragic summer is told through the eyes of a moneyed matriarch, her teenaged granddaughter, and the African American husband of a prodigal daughter returning to the town with a hidden agenda. Each voice rings true and Fierro's grasp of language will want to ...more
May 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 3-stars, cover-love
such a weird book wow. so full of sex and violence that just seemed to be there for the sake of making this book outrageous and wild? but also full of beautiful writing. a lot of the characters had the potential to be so interesting (veronica especially but also brooks and jules and maddie and leslie) but there were so many characters and so many perspectives and they weren't handled especially well. def well-written, but like.....the horniness of each and every character on this book is truly j ...more
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Julia Fierro is the author of the novels The Gypsy Moth Summer(St. Martin’s Press, 2017) and Cutting Teeth (St. Martin’s Press, 2014).

A graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, where she was awarded a Teaching-Writing Fellowship, Julia founded The Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop in 2002, and it has since become a creative home to over 3,500 writers in NYC, Los Angeles and Online. Sackett Street wa

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