Published by Harry N. Abrams
Summary: The story begins with Annabelle finishing up her seventh grade final exams, frustrated and feeling like she’s not very smart. She gets some confirmation of that a few days later when her grades come out. The one thing she knows she’s good at is swimming, and she’s excited for summer swim team, which brings together year-round and summer residents in her island community. At the end of the first practice, the high school coach approaches her to ask if she’d like to move up from the middle school team; Annabelle is thrilled when her mother and stepfather agree, on the condition that her summer reading and tutoring come first. Swimming and hanging out with the older kids is exciting, especially when Connor starts giving her some extra attention. But some of the high schoolers’ activities are a little scary, and Annabelle finds herself in over her head when she starts to hang out with them outside of swim team, leaving her middle school friends behind. It may not always be fun, but Annabelle’s summer before eighth grade is a memorable one, and the lessons she learns promise to serve her well as she moves into her last year of middle school. 278 pages; grades 5-8.
Pros: Annabelle’s difficulties with school, her family, and friends ring true, and middle school readers will undoubtedly relate to her. Her struggles and mistakes are ones kids will understand; she learns from them, but sometimes not as quickly as the adults around her are hoping she will. An excellent choice for middle school summer reading.
Cons: I wish the story had gone up to the end of the summer.