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Summerlings

A Novel

By Lisa Howorth
Narrated by Michael Crouch / 7 hours 24 minutes
Bookseller Recommendation

Summerlings

“On the surface, Lisa Howorth’s coming-of-age story follows a group of young friends in a sleepy suburb just outside Washington, D.C., through long lazy summer days punctuated by childhood adventures. Into this setting, where WWII is still a fresh memory for many and the Cold War is heating up daily, she introduces an international cast of supporting characters whose back stories provide fascinating context and drama. By providing the details of the adults’ lives as seen through the boys’ eyes, Howorth creates a larger story while keeping her eight-year-old protagonists front and center. It’s a perfect balance. I loved it!”

East City Bookshop image Laurie Gillman, East City Bookshop

An Amazon Best of the Month pick

"As a boy my first literary hero was Tom Sawyer, and ever since I've enjoyed the misadventures and romps of kids loose in the summertime. Summerlings is a story rich in local color, humor, outrageous characters, and with a wicked plot."--John Grisham

A Cold War coming-of-age story in which three best friends confront their fears of the Bomb, Russian spies, bullies, and their role in the tragic event that ushers them into adulthood.


It's the summer of 1959. For the families who live on Connors Lane in Washington DC, life is still defined by what one did during WWII. Behind each door lives a possible spy or Nazi sympathizer, the family of a foreign diplomat, or someone who escaped the conflagration in Europe just in time.

But it is also the summer of an inexplicable spider infestation--surely evidence of "insect warfare" by the Russians, thinks our young narrator John, and his best friends, Ivan and Max. When a rare, scorpion-like vinegaroon is discovered and sequestered for museum study, the boys, along with their tomboy accomplice, Beatriz, hatch a risky midnight plan to steal the poisonous creature for their own devious purposes.

At the same time, under the tutelage of Ivan's glamorous aunt Elena, they plan to forge a spirit of bonhomie in the neighborhood by throwing a party in John's grandparents' backyard. Fueled by punch the boys doctor with a jug of Brazilian rum, the adults let down their defenses until Elena, already a lightning rod for her Ukrainian birth, swinging social life, and outspokenness on behalf of refugees, roars off with a stranger on his motorcycle. What happens next will change John's life forever.

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