“Wind kissed my ear, cool and soft, and I heard a voice. It sounded like clover tastes, green and new and sweet. ‘Where y’at, Iris?’”
When I was a kid, there was a young adult book that I read over and over, it was called Girl With the Silver Eyes by Willo Davis Roberts. I cannot attest to the quality of the book because I have found as I’ve aged that many books that were magical to me as children were, in actually, kind of crap. What I can say about the book, though, was that it stirred within me a sense that the world could be magical and that books could be the conveyor of that magic. Shadowed Summer by Saundra Mitchell reminded me of The Girl With The Silver Eyes because it also made me feel like like the world is always on the edge of tipping over into something magical.
One of my favorite aspects of the book is how Mitchell manages to convey that always hurtful period between girlhood and adolescence so well. Her protagonist, Iris, and her best friend, Collette, are both at that age where some girls are on the edge of embracing the teen years and all that goes with them – boys (or perhaps girls) and trying on adulthood as a costumed show – while other girls are still imagining that they might grow up to be pirate-queens, or playing at talking to spirits in the graveyard. It’s a tenuous period for many girls full of shifting loyalties, and Mitchell captured it so well that it brought back quite a few uncomfortable memories for me.
At heart, Shadowed Summer is a ghost story wrapped up in a mystery. I won’t spoil the book by going into it overly much, but I have to admit that if there was ever a novel that I’d want to read a prequel to, this is it. I was quite captivated by the ghost’s story, and wanted to know more about that generation of friends, almost more than I wanted to know about Iris or how she might end up. I doubt Saundra will ever write that book, but if she does, I’ll be the first in line to buy it.
I definitely recommend this book for summer reading, and I know that there are adolescents everywhere who will enjoy it as much as their parents do, if not more since they still have access to that magical world that we have to work so hard to keep in touch with as we age.
I think I’ll re-read Shadowed Summer during the first heat wave of the year. It will be perfect.
Do you have any books from your childhood that felt magical to you? Did you have a period in your early adolescence where some girls seemed to move much more quickly into the world of teenagers than others? Which side of that were you on? How did that make you feel? Have you ever had a ghost talk to you or ask “Where y’at, Iris?” Would you want to? If so, would you tell me one of your personal ghost stories in the comments below? I’d love to hear them!