Feature Book of the Week #7 The Summer I Learned to Fly by Dana Reinhardt

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


The Summer I Learned to Fly
Dana Reinhardt

Drew's a bit of a loner. She has a pet rat, her dead dad's Book of Lists, an encyclopedic knowledge of cheese from working at her mom's cheese shop, and a crush on Nick, the surf bum who works behind the counter. It's the summer before eighth grade and Drew's days seem like business as usual, until one night after closing time, when she meets a strange boy in the alley named Emmett Crane. Who he is, why he's there, where the cut on his cheek came from, and his bottomless knowledge of rats are all mysteries Drew will untangle as they are drawn closer together, and Drew enters into the first true friendship, and adventure, of her life.

Author Post from Dana Reinhardt

How appropriate that I sit down to write this guest post as all across the country kids, including my own, are heading back to school. The summer is dwindling, though where I live in San Francisco summer weather is finally arriving. (This is a topic for a different post entirely, but it is
unreasonably cold in San Francisco all summer long. Just crazy cold.) The Summer I Learned to Fly is my love letter to real summer. To long, lazy structure-free days that provide space for exploring new things. In Drew Robin Solo’s case, it’s the summer before 8th grade she spends her
time discovering secret coves, a secret friend and the secrets her mother has been keeping from her.

I grew up in Los Angeles, which is a far cry from the idyllic coastal town Drew inhabits, but my mother owned a cheese store identical to the one that Drew’s mother owns in the book. Like Drew, I worked there in the summertime, and like Drew I felt at home there in a way I didn’t at school
or among kids my own age. It was my escape from the puzzling world of middle school.
Though one of my jobs at the store was to leave the day old food in the alley, and though it did always disappear, I never found out who took it. That is to say, I didn’t find my Emmett there. Real friendship would come later for me. It would take me awhile to find the people among whom I
could be my true self.

I think of The Summer I Learned to Fly as an old fashioned coming of age story. Please: don’t be put off by the term old fashioned. I mean it in the very best sense. Maybe classic is a better word? Anyway, it’s my stab and the kind of story I really loved when I was a young reader. The kind
that’s about the moment we first begin to discover who we are, what matters to us, and for what, or whom, we’d risk everything. Hope you enjoy it!

About the Author

Dana Reinhardt grew up in a family of storytellers. Her older brothers would tell her elaborate lies that she almost always believed. Her father would take her for long walks
in the neighborhood whenever something life changing was occurring, either privately or in the world at large, and he would talk her through the events in a thoughtful and elegant way.

She spent summers with her grandparents, and at night her grandmother would put her to bed with stories about the boyfriends of her youth.

And her mother shoved books into her hands, books she often didn’t want to read because her mother had given them to her, and that is how children tend to be about the books their mothers love, but inevitably, she would read them, and more often than not, she would love them every bit as much as her mother insisted she would.

When Dana sits down to write, the stories of her family comeback to her, and she tries to keep all aspects of their storytelling in mind. She tries to be a good liar, because she believes that telling elaborate lies and telling them well is the cornerstone of
writing. She believes that good young adult novels should have events that shake the protagonists to their cores, should involve a romantic entanglement or two, and ultimately, should be the kinds of books that you can’t put down even if your mother is
the person who thrust them upon you.

Dana lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two daughters, who so far love the books that she has given to them, but they are only two and five. For more information about Dana Reinhardt, visit her Website.

Biography retrieved from Random House.com 

4 Delicious Comments:

Anonymous said...

This was an amazingly expressive book about being torn between two boys. Even if you have never had a crush, you can imagine how this feels. When one of the boys loses his leg, Robin (Birdie)has to choose whether to stay with her new friend or her old love. I loved this book so much!

Karl- U City Schools (BWMS)

Anonymous said...

The story tugs my heart. It expresses the feelings and life of a girl feeling lonesome and how a worthy friendship helps putting things into place. The emotional struggle Drew goes through is touching.

Anonymous said...

The Summer I Learned to Fly was a very emotional and suspenseful book.It was based on true friendship and how far you will go to follow it. There were sacrifices made, injustice done, and, most of all, loyalty shown. It is a great book and I recommend it to anyone who loves comedy, adventure, and drama.

Parkway Northeast Middle School

Shannon Steimel said...

I love how much your family seems to influence your writing and that you made it a goal to capture what it's like to feel lonely in middle school. I am sure many girls will relate. --Shannon Parker, Librarian, Lift for Life Academy

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