Title: A Summer of Sundays
Author: Lindsay Eland
Major Themes: Libraries, Pennsylvania, Family Life
Synopsis: Sunday feels lost in the middle of her large family—what can she do to be noticed?
Sometimes we end up reading a book that has me wondering about it all the way through. Awhile back, I picked up A Summer of Sundays on a scratch and dent sale from a curriculum supplier that I trust. When we started reading it, I wondered if it was really worth reading. We carried on, and almost all the way through I was wondering if it was going to turn out worthwhile or not.
Sunday was not noticed. She was the middle-of-the-middle child, the third of six children, and not only did her mother not remember her name half the time, but Sunday was only noticed when someone needed her to help out with something—and then, she was left behind at a gas station and no one even noticed! She decided that, this summer, she needed to find some way to make herself stand out, so that she would be noticed, and not just one of the six anymore. What could she do?
Sunday’s father was renovating a library, and the whole family moved to the town where it was, so they could be together. Sunday enjoyed helping with the project, but the best part was when she found a mysterious manuscript hidden in the basement. Could this be her ticket to being noticed? Who wrote the story? Why was it hidden there? Could she and her new friend Jude find the answers? And what about the old man who stayed to himself, about whom such terrible rumors went around? Could she bring him out of his shell?
I don’t appreciate the implication in this story that a child in a large family is neglected and underappreciated. We have eight children, and the ones in the middle of the family were scoffing at this notion as we read the book; they don’t feel like they are ignored and just one-of-the-eight. What I did like about the book, though, was the way Sunday learned to care about other people’s feelings and wishes—although I wondered about that till nearly the last chapter! Another thing that is a little iffy about the book is Sunday’s younger brothers’ fascination with bodily excretions (although it’s pretty realistic). On the other hand, they bring a lot of natural humor (like when one of them informed her that her grave was ready for her to try it out for size).
I’m still not sure how I feel about A Summer of Sundays. It was funny at times, and gave us topics to discuss—which we did! This was a controversial book in our house. We did like the ending, though; it was perfect. This is not a book I would just turn over to my children to read for themselves. It’s best as a read-aloud, with discussion about the family dynamics and other issues.
WARNING: Chapter 7: Someone says, “I swear…” twice. Chapter 18: Sunday said, “I swear…”. Chapter 26: Gee.
Listening Level—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 10 – 12