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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Summer of Change is an adventure novel for young adults and preteens written by Martha Passel. MatiLou Butler and her parents moved away from the city and onto their 40-acre farm some fifty miles away from Albuquerque, New Mexico when she was six years old. Her life was idyllic; the farm was not really a farm, more of a wildlife sanctuary filled with woodlands, creatures, and hiking trails to explore. MatiLou's favorite place was the creek that ran behind their barn, where she discovered the tadpoles that would grow there each season. Their house was too far away for friends from school to come to play, and MatiLou's popularity took a steep downward turn when her teacher announced to the class that she'd be going into special classes because of her high IQ. So, that summer of 1973, when she was eleven years old, became a special one indeed when she watched a young girl jump out of a van outside Grandma Waters' house. MatiLou usually steered clear of Grandma Waters ever since she scolded her for chasing rabbits. But this new girl was Grandma Waters' real granddaughter, and she would be staying there while her parents were in Oklahoma. MatiLou had found a friend.
Martha Passel's coming of age/adventure novel for preteens and young adults, Summer of Change, is an exuberant and lovely tale narrated by the precocious MatiLou, who planned on becoming a wildlife biologist when she grew up and had a penchant for writing poetry. I marveled at the forty acres of paradise she had free rein to roam through and could empathize with her disappointment when her new friend chose to go to town each day instead of exploring the trails and wilderness at their feet. Anyone who's ever been lost in the woods at night, and I have, will especially appreciate PerryAnn and MatiLou's night out on the mountain as they hunker down in the dark and wonder at the rustling noises and occasional screams of the wildlife all around them. I loved the fact that they had the pamphlet from the park entrance and could read about the animals that made the park their home, and could be lurking out there even as they watched. Passel's story is nature writing at its finest as well as being a compelling coming of age tale. Her characters are finely drawn, and the environmental concerns raised throughout the tale are stark and compelling. Summer of Change is most highly recommended.