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“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!”Laurie Gillman, East City Bookshop
It’s the summer of 1959 in the seemingly tranquil suburbs of Washington, D.C. But our young narrator, John, and his best friends, Ivan and Max, know the truth: every door on their street could be hiding an escaped Nazi or a spy with secrets about the A-bomb. The entire city is being plagued by an inexplicable spider infestation—surely evidence of “insect warfare” by the Russians! So when a rare vinegaroon—a whip scorpion—is discovered on Capitol Hill and sequestered for study at the Smithsonian, the boys, along with their tomboy accomplice, Beatriz, hatch a risky midnight plan to steal the deadly creature for their own devious purposes.
Yet when the friends discover some very real instances of anti-Semitism and prejudice in the neighborhood, it’s the shocking and tragic events stemming from a well-intentioned community-building potluck party that change their lives forever.
A vibrantly voiced, heartfelt, and charming Cold War coming-of-age story, Summerlings captures the crystal-clear moments that mark the bittersweet reckoning of childhood’s end.
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