my mixed-up berry blue summer

My Mixed-Up Berry Blue Summer by Jennifer Gennari

June has lived on Lake Champlain with her mother forever.  They run the marina with its supplies and café.  That’s where June learned to make pies, and she is determined to enter the fair this summer to prove what a great baker she is.  But this summer is going to be very different from other summers.  First, her mother’s girlfriend has moved in with them.  Then there is the pressure from Vermont’s new civil union law that has their small town divided.  There are people who won’t shop at the marina anymore because June’s mother is gay.  It is a summer unlike any other, one where June will have to figure out how she feels about having two mothers, and then whether she has the courage to speak up. 

Gennari’s debut novel courageously takes on not only the issue of gay parents but also the political backlash that can occur to a family in modern America.  Through the eyes of June, we see a strong mother and daughter connection, an understanding that her mother is gay, but then the realization that that will be much more public with a girlfriend or spouse.  Gennari makes this a very human story that embraces the power of community and the complexities as well.  As a special aside, I will mention the great librarian character who shows a lot of support for June and her family.

This book is short and active.  It’s a perfect summer read with plenty of dips in the lake, boats on the water, bike rides in the heat, and ripening berries all around.  Nicely, it is about more relationships than the mother and her girlfriend.  June is faced with losing a friend because of their difference in opinion and then June’s changing feelings toward Luke, a boy who is her best friend. 

Perfect for a summer read while floating on a lake, this book is strong, courageous and radiant.  Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from library copy.