Drew's a bit of a loner. She has a pet rat, her dead dad's Book of Lists, an encyclopedic knowledge of cheese from working at her mom's cheese shop, and a crush on Nick, the surf bum who works behind the counter. It's the summer before eighth grade and Drew's days seem like business as usual, until one night after closing time, when she meets a strange boy in the alley named Emmett Crane. Who he is, why he's there, where the cut on his cheek came from, and his bottomless knowledge of rats are all mysteries Drew will untangle as they are drawn closer together, and Drew enters into the first true friendship, and adventure, of her life.
This novel took my breath away. Prior to reading it, I had only read one book by Reinhardt, so I didn’t really know what to expect. What I discovered was a fantastic trove of great characters, heartfelt stories, and beautiful prose. Dana Reinhardt is a fantastic writer. I immediately felt connected to Drew and her story.
I loved that The Summer I Learned to Fly takes place in a small town. Though the town I live in isn’t particularly small, it’s easy to relate to Drew when she talks about feeling trapped in her small town. I especially enjoyed this towns little quirks- like the cheese shop that Drew’s mom owns. The Summer I Learned to Fly is full of many other quirky things- whether it be Emmett and his knowledge of rats or the book of lists that used to be Drew’s fathers. The quirks aren’t just what make those characters special- they are what make the book special. Having those cute, odd things made this novel seem like it was more than just the average small town book.
Drew was awesome. Like I said earlier, I found it really easy to relate to her- especially her need to escape her town. Drew is a younger YA protagonist, but her character is written in a way that makes it so her age doesn’t hinder the story. She’s still independent, and doesn’t act completely like a child.
The Summer I Learned to Fly was awesome. After I had finished reading it, I couldn’t get the characters out of my head. I loved Drew’s story, and I hope you do too.