Posted by: jennclimenhaga | April 21, 2010

Summer of Fire

Bass, Karen.  Summer of Fire.  Regina:  Coteau Books, 2009.  Print.

Forced to spend the summer in Germany with her aggravating sister Cassandra, Del isn’t sure which is worse – her sisters demanding rules, or the distance between her and all of her friends.  When Cassandra’s neighbour Luise asks Del to read the diary of her grandmother, Del sees it as a way to make a little extra money.  Soon though the story of Luise’s grandmother who was raped at sixteen and pregnant as a result in Hitler’s Germany, captivates Del as she comes to terms with her own  problems.

As a novel, this book had me hooked right within the first chapter (always a good sign.)  I was in awe of both the historical plot line, and the ability of Bass to create such believability and sorrow with her words.  Not very often am I moved to tears within the first half of a book, but Summer of Fire delivered more emotional punch than I was expecting.  I mostly enjoyed the story of Garda (Luise’s grandmother), but I saw the merit of Del’s story and how it might resonate with teens today.  I found that the first three quarters of the book were the best, and it dragged on a bit towards the end.  One plot line involving Del in particular was a little far fetched, and I wish that it would have been edited out for length and clarity.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good read, as well as anyone interested in historical fiction that jumps off of the page as if it were happening today.

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