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Summer Sanctuary by Laurie Gray

Summer Sanctuary

by Laurie Gray

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Laurie Gray's Summer Sanctuary is a wonderfully moving story in which both the shy and studious Matthew and the worldly and tomboyish Dinah grow up so much in just a few short weeks. Matthew meets Dinah, whom he originally thought was a boy, at the library, when she takes his half-eaten lunch out of the trash can and eats it. He's watching from a window inside the library.

While Matthew is intrigued by this girl who has eaten from the trash, Dinah is extremely hesitant to tell her story the first time they talk, but by the next day, she obviously needs someone to confide in – and Matthew seems like he can keep a secret.

Dinah, waiting on her mother to get out of a stint in jail, leaves the apartment they share with her mother's boyfriend after he asks Dinah to replace her mother in the bedroom. She has no place to go, so she's been sleeping wherever she can lay her head down.

Matthew's father is the preacher of the nearby church, and he has an idea that Dinah can sleep in the church basement at night, and leave early each morning. Of course Dinah likes the idea since her other option is to sleep outside in the park.

Dinah teaches Matthew how she has been able to survive for the past 10 days on her own, outside. He's a friend when she needs one the most – who won't tell his parents and get child services involved. She's there to encourage him when he's feeling depressed over his friend being gone for the summer and his mother being pregnant – for the fifth.

He's the piano player who has taken lessons to be as good as he is. She's the harmonicist who can't read music and is able to play by ear. He's the 13-year old homeschooled student who has decided to study “time dilation and the speed of light” over the summer. She's the homeless girl who expresses her emotions through poetry.

Neither of them is the same person by the end of the summer.

Matthew and Dinah's story is a beautiful and touching one. The story is a well-written one and describes some of the feelings that teenagers have about their family, and about what it means to be a friend.

The kids have different backgrounds and would never have met if not for Dinah's hunger and Matthew's lunch at the library. ( )
  mom2childs | Jul 27, 2010 |
Facing a summer without his best friend, Matthew decided on a summer project using the speed of light and the theory of relativity to try and prove his own theory about the dilation of time. Using the library resources on a daily basis to prove his theory, he met a girl that turns out didn’t really have anyplace to live or anyone to watch over her for a while. Sharing lunch with Dinah everyday, he would bring sandwiches and she would contribute anything she could find, even if it came from the supermarket dumpster. Wanting to help, he found a way to get her a warm, dry and safe place to stay - in his church basement. Discovering a friend who had a different back ground, a different family dynamic and outlook on life was one way for them both to grow and learn about thing from astrophysics to poetry, from each other and from themselves.

The tenderness and the acceptance that these kids show each other is very touching. If only there were more people that could be so different from each other and yet still help one another learn from those differences. This is a quick and easy story to read, it did have a lot of sitting around a tree talking, some religious overtones (Matthews father is a preacher), a little science and even some music. These kids are gentle and kind, they show warmth and encouragement and all of this in a young, pre-teen boy who is finding his own heart full of friendship and good will toward someone he has only just met. Sad is some parts but over all an uplifting story that could be read by any age group. The science gets a bit technical in places and then the end is abrupt, leaving just a small piece of me wondering if that was it. ( )
  onyx95 | Jun 25, 2010 |
Reviewed by Erikka Adams aka "The Bookbinder" for TeensReadToo.com

Who doesn't remember what it's like to be stuck at home for the summer with nothing to do and no one to see?

At first, this is the prospect for twelve-year-old Matthew's summer. He wants to be hanging out with his friend, Kyle, going to the movies, or doing anything but what he is really doing - hanging out with his family or working on a summer home schooling project which involves being at the library. Every. Day. What a lame summer.

Then Matthew meets Dinah, a fifteen-year-old girl who is also hanging around the library. The two become friends and Matthew catches a glimpse of a world he has never seen before, only heard of. He's lived his entire life in the same town where everyone knows everyone else, especially him and his family, since his dad's the town preacher. Dinah shows him her world of uncertainties, an unstable mother, where meeting basic survival needs is a priority, not a given.

Matthew's family is busy with his other brothers and a baby on the way. They wouldn't be able to understand Dinah's situation, and she's not a Christian. Can Matthew see outside of his own world to accept one like Dinah's? And how is he ever going to tell his Dad he snuck Dinah into the church basement to stay for a while?

Find out what it's like to have your perspective on life challenged. Take a walk in someone else's shoes to see how the truths you know may not be true for others. And find a safe place and a safe person to share who you really are in SUMMER SANCTUARY. ( )
  GeniusJen | Jun 13, 2010 |
This is a great book for middle-grade readers. It has a lot of heart and a great deal of soul, and author Laurie Gray throws in her gentle humor at no extra charge. ( )
  AlRiske | May 27, 2010 |
My Take: I really enjoyed this book. I was curious about it when I first read the summary because I homeschool my daughter and homeschooled my two older children all the way through school. Beside a few spots where the author made Matthew a little naive ( seemed that he was that way because of his being homeschooled, Most homeschooled children that I know are more away of the entire world than the average child their age) I thought that the author portrayed a homeschooled child very well.

I was touched my how willing that Matthew was to watch after Dinah and how he tried to come up with solutions to her problems. They made a fine team. I was disappointed that he felt he needed to hide Dinah from his parents because I am sure that something could have been worked out that she wouldn't of had to go into child welfare.

Over all I thought this was a very enjoyable books and I am going to give it to my daughter to read next. ( )
  detweilermom | May 14, 2010 |
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One summer, Matthew, a minister's son whose mother is about to have a fifth child and who is home-schooled, meets Dinah, who is homeless, at the library, and helps her survive and avoid welfare workers.

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