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The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner

The Summer of Letting Go

by Gae Polisner

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Francesca was 12 years old and was supposed to watch her four-year-old brother Simon, at the beach but she got distracted and he drowned. Now 16, she has not been able to forgive herself for letting him drown. In addition she is sure her mom hates her, since she has not been civil to her since he died. Read the rest of the review on my blog: http://shouldireaditornot.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/the-summer-of-letting-go-gae-... ( )
  ShouldIReadIt | Sep 26, 2014 |
For Francesca "Frankie" Schnell, "there are never any good summers, only survivable ones." This summer promises to be the same. She begins it with a huge crush on her best friend's boyfriend, a sneaking suspicion that her father is having an affair with a neighbor, her mother deeply entrenched in her charity work, and the ever-present guilt she carries with her over the death of her brother, Simon, four years earlier.

Then she meets Frankie Schyler (aka Frankie Skye), a four-year-old boy who bares a striking resemblance to her deceased brother. When the boy's mother offers Francesca a mother's helper job for the summer, she feels so drawn to the younger Frankie that she can't refuse. Soon she discovers that not only does the boy look like her brother, but she begins to believe that Simon is a part of Frankie Skye.

With the help of the ever-so-honest Frankie Skye, an unexpected shoulder to cry on, a heart-breaking confession, and the attention of a special boy, Francesca learns to let go of the guilt that should never have been hers to begin with.

Polisner has crafted a story that gently enfolds the reader in it's arms, and then reveals a character's heart that is so broken that we feel the pain ourselves. As with her freshman novel THE PULL OF GRAVITY, Polisner creates authentic, fleshed-out characters whom we love from the very first page. Even secondary characters get a chance to shine.

Frankie and Frankie will stay with you for a long time. ( )
  wscalfaro | Aug 6, 2014 |
This is a really great, character-driven YA story that deals with forgiveness, healing and the question, what happens to the soul after our bodies no longer exist?

15-year old Francesca (Frankie) Schnell’s 4 year-old little brother, Simon drowned. Frankie has lived the last four years of her life in the shadows of his death, in grief and with remorse. With summer here once more, she avoids the beach where he was last seen alive. Her mother has withdrawn, forgotten that Frankie exists. Her dad is secretive, and Frankie suspects he is having an affair with the neighbor.

Frankie is crushing on her best friend’s boyfriend, Bradley. She has never kissed a boy, and thinks she never will. Plagued by the oppressive weight of her brother’s death, she feels undeserving of any good things.

Enter exuberant and sweet, 4-year old Frankie Sky who forces Frankie to take notice of him with his daredevil stunts. To keep young Frankie safe, she accepts the position of mother’s helper for the little guy and quickly finds herself taken with him. The more time she spends with him, though, the more Frankie Sky reminds her of her deceased brother, Simon. Not only do her brother and Frankie Sky look alike, but also they are the same age, and the particulars about the boys’ birth and death are inexplicable. Believing these facts cannot be mere coincidences and that there is an unearthly, spiritual connection between the two boys, Frankie sets out to understand the intangible message she is sure Simon is sending her.

But Simon died while on her watch. Taking care of busy Frankie Sky will make her face her greatest fears — can she keep him safe? Can she get it right this time?

I loved the essence of this book. It was an easy read and hit all the marks of a solid story. Highly recommend! ( )
  SuzanneML | Jul 17, 2014 |
A child’s guilt can be overwhelming and so it is with fifteen year old Francesca (Frankie) Schnell. SummerOfLettingGoFour years ago, while at the beach with her parents, her four year old brother, Simon, drowned. She and Simon were building a sand castle. She went to the beach blanket where her parents were sleeping, looking for food. When she turned around her brother was at the water’s edge, then he was caught by a wave. Frankie was stunned into inaction. Her father, hearing her scream, runs into the water but Simon couldn’t be saved. Frankie hasn’t swam since.

It is four years later. Frankie’s guilt is still in full force. She thinks her mother, who ignores her and spends most of her time at a foundation created in Simon’s memory, blames her and hates her. She’s jealous of her girlfriend, Lisette, who is gorgeous and has the boyfriend that Frankie yearns for.

Having snuck into the local country club pool (for reasons I won’t tell you), she sees a four year old boy dive into the deep end of the pool and look like he’s going to drown. She is paralyzed into inaction and Peter, the lifeguard, jumps in. As the boy’s mother drags him away, they almost bump into Frankie and the little boy asks “Who she?” Frankie introduces herself. It seems that his name in Frankie as well.

The next day, Francesca is called into the office of the pool’s owner. Afraid she’s going to be arrested for sneaking into the pool, she’s relieved when she finds out Frankie’s mother wants her to be a mother’s helper and help with Frankie during the summer.

All of this would generate a so-so book, but there’s more that pulled me into this book, The Summer of Letting Go. Little Frankie is the same age as Simon was when he drowned. Frankie looks like Simon, likes frogs just like Simon and has that same fearlessness. There’s more that I won’t tell you about.

Polisner explores the possibility of reincarnation/transmigration. Is it possible that Simon’s soul migrated into little Frankie? An interesting possibility. She also explores how people cope with pain. Each person in the Schnell household has dealt dramatically differently with Simon’s death. And finally, Polisner deals with a young girl’s self image and self doubt. Is Frankie pretty, especially compared to Lisette? Would any boy like her, especially the one she likes…who happens to be Lisette’s boyfriend?

The characters are all clear cut. They each have distinct personalities. I think it’s hard sometimes to create a four year old character, but little Frankie is cute, exasperating, funny, sad, just like a four year old and his sidekick dog, Potato, is just as cute.

There is a lot to think about in The Summer of Letting Go but Polisner does a fine job of putting all together in a cohesive, interesting, fun read. More that just a beach read, this book will make you think….which is what a good book should do. So, don’t let this summer go by without reading The Summer of Letting Go. ( )
  EdGoldberg | Jun 17, 2014 |
I won this arc from goodreads and I'm glad I did because if I had Not I probably never would have read this little gem. Wonderful young adult novel. A young girl dealing with the painful loss of her little brother and the guilt she felt from his death. ( )
  rachelep | May 5, 2014 |
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Four years after her brother Simon drowned while in her charge, Francesca, now fifteen, begins to move on after a summer caring for Frankie, who seems to be Simon reincarnated, and getting closer to her best friend's boyfriend.

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