When you look back on your childhood, doesn’t it seem as if summer was always a time of momentous changes? Your first time away from home? Winning a tennis tournament? A first romance?
Drew Robin Sole is 13 years old during the pivotal summer when she begins to think of herself and her world differently. The Summer I Learned to Fly by Dana Reinhardt unfolds like a poem, from Drew’s no-nonsense point of view. Except that she begins to indulge in a bit of nonsense—like riding a bike without a helmet and sneaking out of the house when she’s grounded. She also finds herself arguing with her mother, and she can’t figure out quite how it happens. She loves her mother. Yet Drew also needs to test out her own ideas about how things work.
And then there's Emmett Crane, who eats the cheese she leaves on the dumpster behind her mother's Cheese Shop, and shows her things and people in her community she never knew existed. This is not a romance, though maybe there are feelings stirring there. Mostly it’s the story of a boy and girl building a tenuous trust that blossoms into friendship—with a few missteps along the way.
Almost everyone in the book is in transition in some way—Drew’s mother; Nick, a handsome employee in her mother’s cheese shop; Emmett and the friends to whom he introduces Drew. And each touches Drew in ways large and small that ripple through her. By summer’s end, she emerges as a bigger person with richer life experiences for having tested her wings.