By Dana Reinhardt
Wendy Lamb Books, $15.99, 224 pages
The Summer I Learned to Fly is Dana Reinhardt’s fifth young adult novel. While some of her other books have dealt with tough issues experienced by older teens, this novel is more suitable for a younger, middle school audience. Thirteen-year-old Drew Robin Solo is a good-girl who lives with her mother and pet rat, Humbert Fog, in small-town California. Drew is a loner who spends her free time helping out at her mother’s gourmet cheese store and crushing on Nick Drummond, the cute older boy who works the pasta machine.
“When there’s something, or someone, when there’s anything that makes you happy, you don’t let a continent or an ocean or any empty pocket keep you apart.”
Her average life turns topsy-turvy when she meets Emmet Crane, the scruffy boy who Dumpster-dives outside her mother’s store. His presence is elusive, and the inconsistent friendship he offers Drew confuses her. To make things more puzzling, her mom’s been sneaking out with Fletcher Melcher, Nick is in the hospital, and she’s been grounded indefinitely. When Drew discovers that Emmet is a runaway, on a mission to heal his family and heal his little brother, she joins him on an adventure that leads them both to a major grounding – and the first true friendship of their lives.