July 2, 2013

Review: A Summer of Sundays

When I saw in the description that this novel would appeal to fans of ‘The Mother Daughter Book Club’ AND ‘The Wedding Planner’s Daughter’ series, I knew I had to read it because, of course, I love both of those series.

Let me tell you, ‘Sunday’ is such a delightful, feel-good read wrapped in mystery.

And how adorable is that cover? That cover alone would make me pick this book up off the shelf.

Title: ‘A Summer of Sundays’
Author: Lindsay Eland
Pages: 336
Available: July 9, 2013
Source: Requested from Netgalley

Summary (from Goodreads):

Fans of The Mother Daughter Book Club (Heather Vogel Fredericks) and The Wedding Planner's Daughter (Coleen Paratore) series will fall in love with the humor, classic charm, and very determined heroine of Lindsay Eland's sophomore novel.

When you're the third of six kids, it's easy to get lost in the shuffle, but Sunday Fowler is determined that this summer she'll find the one thing that makes her stand out from her siblings.

And when she discovers a silver box in the basement of the library her parents are renovating, she might just have found something to gain her the attention she so craves. Inside is a series of letters addressed to "The Librarian" and a manuscript. But who wrote them? With the help of annoying neighbor-turned-new-friend Jude, Sunday is determined to track down the author. And when she unveils this novel to the world, she'll be famous!

But uncovering this manuscript means stirring up secrets that some people in the town hoped to keep buried. And Sunday must decide if some things—loyalty, trust, friendship—are worth more than her name in the headlines.

My Thoughts:

As the novel opens, we meet Sunday Fowler, one of six who just wants to be noticed. When her parents stop at a gas station and leave her there, I was convinced I was going to read a ‘Home Alone’ type of story. Instead, I found this to be an endearing tale of an almost twelve-year-old little girl looking for her family to notice her.

Sunday is the “go to” child in the family, the one her parents know they can count on. While this is admirable, it is also tiresome to her. She wants more than just being Sunday.

When her father decides to bring the entire family in on his latest job—restoring a library—a new adventure in Sunday’s life begins. She discovers a locked box in the basement, and curiosity getting the better of her, opens it to discover mysterious letters written to “Librarian.” This sets into motion a summer Sunday soon won’t forget—and quite possibly a summer where she will make her mark. After all, what if these letters are a lost legend of a famous local writer? (I felt a bit like this element was paying homage to Harper Lee.)

The plot is solid storytelling—a family of six with two parents who love their children and are doing all they can to be there and provide. I found the book to have a nice pace to it, especially for young readers, and for once the parents enhanced the story instead of getting in the way.

Mom seems to always bake something scrumptious, and there’s always more than enough for her family of eight. Dad is a genius at remodeling and his current project is the local library, a project that the entire family pitches in to help restore and repair for a reopen. Really, I want to hang out with the Fowlers for the food alone. And the company. But really, for the food.

With a family this large, everyone has to do their part—but it seems like Sunday does more than her fair share. Of course, she is the story’s star and the focus is on her, but really there should be more equality among the kids. But isn’t this how it is in families? This is the realistic element that I felt a lot of young readers could connect with.

There are a lot of characters to contend with, which might become a bit much for younger readers, but the way the author has them step in and out of the story allows readers to keep up with them (instead of easily becoming confused, and with this many characters, it’s a risk the author pulls off).

My favorite character is Jude. He is not one of Sunday’s siblings, just a friend who wants to help her make her mark—and make the right decision. He is there every step of the way, and he knows the true meaning of friendship. His mother is a bit over-bearing with her “organic” kick (sometimes kids just need to be kids), but overall Jude stole the show a bit from Sunday with his good manners and level head.

With six children, a mom and dad, a best friend, and a local recluse who is rumored to eat small children, ‘A Summer of Sundays’ will keep young readers engaged with love, friendship, and the meaning of honor as well as engage them in a mystery. Who did write those letters?

I recommend this book for readers age 9+. It really will appeal to those tween readers who enjoy Candy Apple books and fun family reads. But this is not just a book for girls. While the main character is a girl, she has three younger brothers and a male friend that will appeal to the young male reader in your life as well.

What is the best “family” oriented book you’ve read?

Comment below and let’s talk about books.

Happy Reading!

-      The Hodgenator

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