Author: Julia Fierro
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publish Date: June 6, 2017 (Yesterday!)
Source: TLC Book Tours
What's the Story?:
From Goodreads.com: "It is also the summer Leslie Day Marshall—only daughter of Avalon’s most prominent family—returns with her husband, a botanist, and their children to live in “The Castle,” the island's grandest estate. Leslie’s husband Jules is African-American, and their children bi-racial, and islanders from both sides of the tracks form fast and dangerous opinions about the new arrivals.
Maddie Pencott LaRosa straddles those tracks: a teen queen with roots in the tony precincts of East Avalon and the crowded working class corner of West Avalon, home to Grudder Aviation factory, the island's bread-and-butter and birthplace of generations of bombers and war machines. Maddie falls in love with Brooks, Leslie’s and Jules’ son, and that love feels as urgent to Maddie as the questions about the new and deadly cancers showing up across the island. Could Grudder Aviation, the pride of the island—and its patriarch, the Colonel—be to blame?
As the gypsy moths burst from cocoons in flocks that seem to eclipse the sun, Maddie’s and Brooks’ passion for each other grows and she begins planning a life for them off Avalon Island"
My Two Cents:
In "The Gypsy Moth Summer," the characters are struggling not only with a bug infestation but a chain of events that threatens to upend all of their lives. There is Maddie, a teenage girl trying to fit in at school and falling in love with someone that her family doesn't approve of. He is Brooks, the son of Leslie, a woman returning to Avalon Island after being all but banished because of her own relationship with her African American husband, Jules, who just wants to save the gorgeous, unruly garden at Leslie's family home. The island is also home to Grudder Aviation, which has been the economic engine of the island but may also now be causing diseases on the island. And these are just a few of the story lines that the author tries to tackle in this ambitious book. There is a lot going on in this book!
This book has a huge cast of characters, mainly Maddie's family (to include grandparents) and Brook's family. Maddie's family represents the old guard of the island. Her grandfather is one of the major players in Grudder Aviation and may have had a hand in the factory now causing diseases. Her grandmother is torn between duty and honor and she cannot decide what is more important or if she can atone for what she feels is her part in what is happening on the island. Brook's family represents Avalon Island's new future. His parents play a prominent role in the major event/ turning point of the book. A big cast like this can be problematic when there is too little space to thoroughly explore the characters as is the case in this book. For instance, Maddie's parents (mother in particular) have some pretty interesting issues that are never fully addressed and left me with a lot of questions.
While the story lines are interesting and the author's words are often gorgeous, my attention became too divided by the sheer number of story lines and the book did not feel cohesive. All of this being said, the writing is good. The author has a great way of writing very vivid scenes that kept me in the story. I liked how each chapter began with a connection to the gypsy moths that play another character in the book. I would love to see what else the author does in the future!