The Summer I Learned to Fly by Dana Reinhardt

This book was the perfect summer “read”, and by “read” I mean it was the perfect summer book to listen to in my car while driving to work and back every day. See? Perfect.

I honestly wasn’t too sure about this book in the beginning, as it started out a little strange and, well, boring. It’s about a 13-year-old girl named Drew (previously Robin Drew) who works in her mother’s cheese shop for the summer. That kind of sums it up, only it doesn’t. Let me explain.

Drew’s dad died before the book started, which means it’s all about Drew and her mother starting over, trying to figure out life without a husband/father in the house. Drew’s mother starts a business, a cheese shop, not too far from their home. And it was enough to draw me in at the beginning. Yes, it was boring and didn’t really take off from the start, but it was such a unique setting that I wanted more – so much more. So, I kept at it, and by the end of the book, I was so very sad to see it end.

Drew is a very responsible, grown-up teenager that plays by the rules and doesn’t deviate much from her typical behavior. She checks in with her mother when she’s supposed to and she helps out in her mother’s shop, with a crush on an older surfer guy named Nick. In all, she’s a typical teenager with not a lot of drama goin’ on. That is, until her pet rat leads her to Emmett. Emmett Crane. Emmett is an offbeat character with a past that we’re left guessing for most of the book. However, he’s sweet and kind and mysterious, and I started wanting Reinhardt to only focus on him so I could get more! I wanted to know his story, the real story, about his past and why he was scrounging around for food scraps behind the cheese shop every night. That’s where he was when Drew finds him after her pet rat, Hum, goes missing. From their very first encounter, there’s a connection between Drew and Emmett, one that’s undeniable and confusing all at the same time.

Reinhardt’s novel is about Drew and Emmett’s journey, both together yet individually, through this phase of each of their lives. Drew is trying to figure out how to be okay with her mother dating again and really finding true friends while reading her father’s Book of Lists to learn more and more about him even after he’s gone from their lives. Emmett is searching for answers, for a miracle for his family back home. And along the way, they each find themselves – who they are and who they want to be. They grow and laugh and worry and love while sorting out their teenage dreams. Overall, I’m rating this one a four, because it was oh-so-good.

I know this review is a little short and left wanting more (vague much?!), but that’s how I wanted to keep it. This is not a book that I want to ruin for anyone by giving too much away. It’s one of those with some twists and turns and things you just seriously never see coming, but they’re beautiful. And as a lover of books, I believe each and every person that comes to this book should read it for themselves and learn of the unexpectedness on their own, not from my words. And with that, I’m definitely looking forward to reading more of Reinhardt’s work! You should check this one out. You’ll be left wanting more, will never see it coming, and you’ll reflect on your own life. Yes, it’s one of those.

Linking up with Amber for this month’s #collaboreads: set in summertime.