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Author: Gin Phillips
Published By: Dial Books (2013)
Synopsis: After a falling out between their mothers, 13-year-old best friends Nell and Lydia are forbidden from seeing each other for the whole summer. Nell struggles with the thought of not only losing her best friend, but also losing the only person in whom Nell finds refuge from the difficulties she faces at home. Determined to find a place of their own, Nell and Lydia spend the summer hiding out in an abandoned golf course where Nell and Lydia find mysterious symbols scattered throughout the grounds. As they reveal the secret of the symbols, Nell discovers she isn’t the only one seeking haven and begins to uncover what’s really been hidden all along, finally allowing herself to be truly seen. (Taken from Goodreads)
This book was…interesting. Very good and well written, but interesting.
The Hidden Summer follows the summer of two best friends, Nell and Lydia, who have been banned from seeing each other, thanks to a fallout between their mothers. Since they live right in front of an old abandoned golf course, Nell plots a plan so the girls can secretly live there during the day all summer. It starts as just a way to spend time as friends, but soon merges into a story of self-discovery.
While the writing was very good and the characters were well developed, the plotline, in my opinion, had some issues.
The whole concept of her living on a golf course was fascinating, and it even was believable her parents could believe it was camp. I wasn’t bothered that there was no realistic upkeep or guards: this is imagination working here so the story doesn’t need to be one-hundred-percent realistic. My issue was with Gloria and Maureen and Jakobe. Not that I didn’t like them; they were very well done characters. And I liked the way they lived on their own. My problem was that they didn’t seem to serve a purpose in the story and their story is never tied up. They’re homeless, we know that, but in the end, we still don’t know if they’ve found a way out or if they’re still on their own.
Also, I found it kind of unbelievable that a woman like Gloria would have no problem with kids living on their own during the day without their parents knowing; or that she’d say things like, “I wish you didn’t have to leave.” Maybe her daughter would say something like that; but Gloria’s a mom. I did not get it. As well, it kind of felt like Maureen and Jakobe were a start of a subplot and never were finished. They dart in and out of the storyline, never truly contributing, but rather just sitting there, and then when Nell leaves the course we never find out what happened to them. Like the author kind of just forgot.
Maybe I’m wrong and this was just an element for Nell to see on the golf course and for it never to be explained or tied up. Either way, I was disappointed.
While Lydia and Nell’s friendship seemed realistic, Lydia was a very stereotypical best friend. She’s just like every other best friend you read in books—outgoing, energetic, encouraging, etc—but with nothing of her own personality. She did not pop out at me as a real character like Nell did, simply because she was so predictable and stereotypical. Nell, on the other hand, was a gorgeous character full of her own personality.
There was a lot of positive and fun things about this story, but the few issues I had were enough to downscale this to a 3.0 star rating. I did still enjoy it though.
Recommended to: Anyone looking for a fun, imaginative story!