The Summer of Bitter and Sweet

HarperAudio. May 2022. 1,008p. $27.99. ISBN 9780063086197.
Gr 8 Up–In a rare example of serendipitous convergence, debut YA author Ferguson; her protagonist, Lou; and first-time narrator Julie Lumsden are all Canadian Métis. Ferguson begins with an unusual, thoughtful foreword (don’t skip the double afternotes, either!) which reveals potential trauma triggers, allowing readers to skip her novel because “your health, happiness, safety, and well-being matter more than reading this book.” Lumsden immediately adopts that empathic voice throughout in revealing Lou’s final summer at home, scooping ice cream at her family’s “shack.” Her mother’s on the road selling handmade jewelry, leaving Lou in her uncles’ care. Lou’s dumped her pushy boyfriend, but she’s surrounded by friends, including the return of maybe-soulmate King. Looming, however, are the stalking threats from someone she never wants to know—her mother’s newly freed rapist who happens to be her biological father.
VERDICT A sharp, eloquent, heartrending accomplishment that demands access in all media.

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