The summer before she begins high school is stretching out before thirteen-year-old Nina Ross and things aren't looking that great. Her parents, both high-powered, ladder-climbing lawyers, are caught up in the throes of a high visibility case and they don't have time or brainspace for anything else. Her older brother, Matt, still serving his time in her parents' minds for his mistake, goes to work by day and disappears with friends by night. The toughest voids though are created by the passing of her grandmother who had made life positively wonderful with her Simple Truths and the new personality being adopted by Nina's good friend, Jorie, who is now interested in going to Homecoming with Eli, the neighbor guy.
Told from the first person point of view this sweet romance centers on Nina's decision to step up and make a difference in her cul-de-sac this summer. The lives of the families seem to be in need of a shot in the arm. Nina decides she is going to take every day of her summer vacation and figure out a way to do something for someone else. That will be 65 days so she'll need to come up with 65 good deeds.
The romance between Eli and Nina emerges slowly and sweetly. Will she ever get that first kiss? Will Jorie get Eli to take her to Homecoming? Does Nina care?
There is a very direct quality about this book that makes it a refreshing, entertaining read. The neighborhood is filled with quirky characters and lives with a bit of dust on them. Seems they need someone or something to jump start them and that's where Nina comes in as she clandestinely delivers her thoughtful, caring goodness to those around her.
This could make a great discussion starter for fifth graders or middle schoolers. Is it all about you? Can one person make a difference in the world.... or maybe in your school?
978-0385371070 264 pages Ages 9-13
Recommended by: Barb, abookandahug.com