Review: A Summer Secret

Title: A Summer Secret
Author: Kathleen Fuller
Details: Paperback, 288 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson, 1st Edition (May 18, 2010)
ISBN: 140031593X    (isbn13: 9781400315932)

Set in the Amish community of Middlefield, Ohio, “A Summer Secret” centers around Mary Beth, a fairly typical thirteen year old.

It took me longer to read this middle-grade book than it should have. It’s very, very wordy for a middle-grade book. There is a lot of Amish terminology thrown into the book, and at first, I was excited about this. However, there’s so much jargon thrown into the book, that the reader is forced to flip back to the beginning to read the definition of certain words because in some contexts, the words are not so easily defined. It became a huge frustration to have to flip back and forth between what I was reading to the glossary of Amish words Fuller added. It just seemed unnecessary to include so many Amish words — if I didn’t enjoy all the flipping back and forth, I don’t expect that the audience this book is written for will enjoy it either. While a few  words here and there would have been acceptable, I feel that Fuller went overboard with it.

The plot of the story begins pretty strong. Mary Beth finds an abandoned barn and uses it as a retreat from her family. Though she knows the barn is off limits, she uses it anyway. Soon after, her twin brother discovers her hideaway and he begins to use it too. The siblings begin to suspect that someone else is using the barn as well. At this point the promise of a good middle-grade mystery begins to lose steam. After discovering the secret visitor, the children begin to question their behavior and make important decisions.

The idea in the book is good. However, Fuller goes through such great lengths to describe the characters and their surroundings that I found myself skimming through a lot of wordy description just to get back to the plot. To be honest, I do not see many young adults getting past the first few chapters before moving on to something a bit more enjoyable and easy to read.

I can really only picture this being read as part of a summer reading program where children are forced to read it for a grade. It’s that type of middle-grade book.

Thomas Nelson Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book as part of their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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