Nell Dare is a young city girl with big plans for her summer vacation in New York City. She and her best friend are interning as junior zookeepers in Central Park, but when Nell's father mysteriously goes away, Nell must accompany her botanist mother to Roanoke, North Carolina, to study an ancient grapevine. At first Nell is upset by the change of plans, until she and her mother settle into a seaside cottage and Nell meets Ambrose, a local boy who dresses in period costume. Ambrose teaches Nell about Roanoke’s unusual history, including the story of the lost colonists, a group of English settlers who went missing in the late 16th century. While hunting for ancient artifacts, Nell and Ambrose evade Lila, a Roanoke native with a know-it-all attitude, who is on her own quest to uncover evidence of the lost colony. Then Nell and Ambrose embark on a dangerous course for answers that may cost Nell her life.
Summer of Lost and Found is about a young girl trying to navigate around her parents’ problems. When Nell’s father abruptly leaves, and Nell’s mother refuses to disclose why, Nell conjures up her own solution to her family’s unusual separation. Her friendship with Ambrose is built on mutual sadness as Ambrose’s father had also left the family, albeit under much different circumstances. Ambrose is the more compelling character in this story, and savvy readers will figure out his secret early on, although that won’t dilute the fun of this enjoyable mystery.
Kimberly Giarratano is the author of Grunge Gods and Graveyards, a young adult paranormal mystery.