Paul Mosier’s Summer and July is an ode to that one summer when everything changes.
Combat-boot-wearing, goth-dressing Juillet is furious that her dad has left her mom for a younger woman. Juillet’s mother, a physician, seldom has enough time for her daughter, but this summer they are heading from Michigan to California for a change of scene.
Ocean Park is a friendly, funky beach town near everything Juillet fears most: deep, dark oceans, man-eating sharks and the threat of towering tsunamis. As it happens, Juillet is afraid of just about everything. Five different psychologists have told her that she hides behind her fears to avoid her feelings about her parents’ divorce.
Soon after settling in, Juillet meets Summer, a free-spirited surfer who seems like everything Juillet is not. The girls become fast friends, and Summer eases Juillet past each of her phobias, helping her take baby steps into shallow water, then boogie board near the shore, then finally surf her first wave. Though Summer is perpetually upbeat, she also has a secret sadness, which she shares with Juillet as the two become close.
Summer and July reads like a classic coming-of-age story in the best way, as each girl confronts challenges and emerges from her summer transformed. Juillet and Summer’s deepening affection for each other is poignant and sure to resonate. Mosier’s pacing is languid, but like the pull of the tide, readers will be drawn in and swept away from safe and shallow shores. Fortunately, this book trusts that its readers are strong swimmers, ready for what the world has to offer.