Review By Gabrielle

The Firefly Summer is the perfect summer read for middle graders.

Favourite Quote:

Because suddenly that was all I wanted. I wanted to know more about her- much more than just the same stories I’d heard so often from my dad. And I wanted to know what had happened. Why hadn’t I heard from my mom’s family? What had gone on between my dad and my grandparents to cause a rift this big?

My eyes drifted over to my bookshelf. All my Miss Terry mysteries were neatly lined up-and it felt like they were scolding me. Because all this time, I had been living inside an actual mystery and I hadn’t even realized it, much less cracked the case.

But this was my chance to. I could go to Lake Phoenix – I could find out more about my mom. Because if there was this photo, there were more. Whole albums and lots of stories-stuff my dad probably didn’t even know. I’d get to hear all of it. And as an added bonus, I would get to the bottom of the feud.

en million Insta followers. She prayed she would be under triple digits, but this is three pounds lighter than she dared hope.

Goodreads Synopsis: 

For as long as Ryanna Stuart can remember, her summers have been spent with her father and his new wife. Just the three of them, structured, planned, and quiet. But this summer is different. This summer, she’s received a letter from her grandparents—grandparents neither she nor her dad have spoken to since her mom’s death—inviting her to stay with them at an old summer camp in the Poconos.

Ryanna accepts. She wants to learn about her mom. She wants to uncover the mystery of why her father hasn’t spoken to her grandparents all these years. She’s even looking forward to a quiet summer by the lake. But what she finds are relatives… so many relatives! Aunts and uncles and cousins upon cousins—a motley, rambunctious crew of kids and eccentric, unconventional adults. People who have memories of her mom from when she was Ryanna’s age, clues to her past like a treasure map. Ryanna even finds an actual, real-life treasure map!

Over the course of one unforgettable summer—filled with s’mores and swimming, adventure and fun, and even a decades-old mystery to solve—Ryanna discovers a whole new side of herself and that, sometimes, the last place you expected to be is the place where you really belong.

There is a lot to love about this book. Part mystery, part family saga, part finding yourself adventure, Morgan’s middle grade debut is an absolute hit. Every aspect of this book is terrific.

Ryanna is the kind of main character you can really cheer for. I loved her instantly. She lost her mom when she was just little and doesn’t really remember her. Her dad, although a truly wonderful father, doesn’t talk about her much. So when she receives an invitation to spend the summer with her mother’s parents, Ryanna decides it is something she needs to do. Things don’t quite go as she envisioned though. When she arrives at the former summer camp turned family summer compound, she discovers a boisterous group of aunts, uncles, and cousins she didn’t know existed.

This book had my heart aching with nostalgia. My grandparents owned a cottage in the Muskoka area and when I was little, all the family on my mom’s side would gather there in the summer. I had the same endless summer days with my cousins, just as Ryanna did. The kind of days where anything could happen within the safe freedom of summer cottage life. Where kids roam free and get into all sorts of projects and develop neat new hybrid games, and ways to entertain themselves, gloriously screen free. Morgan captures the magic of summer so perfectly.

Ryanna is a mystery and avid reader, just like I was at her age. She goes to Lake Phoenix to solve the mystery of the feud between her dad and her grandparents. When she arrives, she is delighted when she stumbles upon a second mystery, left decades ago by her own mother. Together with her cousins, she has to follow the clues to find the treasure. Throughout the experience, Ryanna gets to learn so much about her mom and the family she didn’t know she had.

If your middle grader loves adventure or mysteries, The Firefly Summer is the perfect book for them. And after they are done reading it, I highly recommend you borrow it. It is a great read for folks of any age.

Thank you, Simon & Schuster for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.