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The Summer of May


The Summer of May

Young May feels anger, desertion and confusion after her mom leaves. To make matters worse, the adults who are supposed to step up and take care of her are trapped in their own sense of loss. Her grandma is depressed and barely leaves the bedroom. Her dad works a lot, but when he's home, they argue.

As a result, May lashes out, but takes it too far one day when she defaces school property by writing something nasty about her English teacher, Ms. Movado, whom she dislikes. Faced with expulsion or summer school with Ms. Movado, she reluctantly chooses the latter. Ms. Movado has May repaint the classroom and then takes her out on excursions to try to connect with her.

These side trips help May gain respect for Ms. Movado, who she learns dreams of becoming a writer and has a drawer full of rejection slips. After realizing that smart people can fail too, May doesn't feel as stupid. It's the first time it dawns on her that no one should give up on their dreams. They discuss Langston Hughes's poem "Harlem," which also talks about unfulfilled dreams. Ms. Movado asks May to come up with imagery to describe losing one's dreams. She describes being in an apartment filled with loved ones, except that all those people are in their rooms with doors shut. It's just the beginning of trying to turn her life around.

During another outing, May has a chance to learn about Ms. Movado's personal life. They are out by a waterfall when she tells May about a time when she and her best friend jumped from the falls into the water below. Unfortunately, her friend seriously hurt her back. The girl's parents disallowed any further communication between them, so that marked a sad ending to their friendship. On the ride back, May cries in front of Ms. Movado.

Cecilia Galante carefully uses May's journal to express her many thoughts. During one entry, May jots down a list of words to describe herself: empty, icky, jumbled. In another, she talks about the one thing she wishes she could undo: the fight she had with her mom the night before she left. These journal entries are raw, but written as a young person with a heavy heart would express herself. Although May is the main protagonist, the secondary characters also have a chance to heal their own pain. THE SUMMER OF MAY is a well-crafted novel and a truly poignant story.

Reviewed by Kathleen M. Purcell on April 24, 2012

The Summer of May
by Cecilia Galante

  • Publication Date: April 24, 2012
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Aladdin
  • ISBN-10: 141698304X
  • ISBN-13: 9781416983040