About the Book-
It’s the summer of 1955. For Ethan Harper, a biracial kid raised mostly by his white father, race has always been a distant conversation. When he’s sent to spend the summer with his aunt and uncle in small-town Alabama, his Blackness is suddenly front and center, and no one is shy about making it known he’s not welcome there. Except for Juniper Jones. The town’s resident oddball and free spirit, she’s everything the townspeople aren’t—open, kind, and full of acceptance.
Armed with two bikes and an unlimited supply of root beer floats, Ethan and Juniper set out to find their place in a town that’s bent on rejecting them. As Ethan is confronted for the first time by what it means to be Black in America, Juniper tries to help him see the beauty in even the ugliest reality, and that even the darkest days can give rise to an invincible summer.
Daven McQueen’s Juniper Jones is a character for all ages in this sweet coming of age story set in 1950s Alabama.
THIS BOOK. I didn’t really know much about this book before I read it, knowing vaguely that it was about racism and a coming of age, but nothing specific. And MAN it surprised me in all the best ways possible.
First of all, it is a middle grade, which I have very much been wanting to read, but haven’t been able to since my library hasn’t been open. (At least, I think it’s a middle grade? There is some language (up to the s word), but the main characters are in their mid-teens and there is no romance, so it feels like middle grade.) The language is simple and allowed me to picture the whole scene, which is always something I love.
Second, it’s a summer book, which I am ALWAYS down for. Summertime romps outside, unsupervised, with a bike and a pond and infinite flowers and grass, and coming home only for dinner? SIGN ME UP. That setting always holds a special place in my heart and I will always have a light penchant for summer books.
Third, not only is it a feel good, summer read, it also tackles such important topics! The basis of this story is a biracial kid figuring out his place in 1950s America, which even now is such an important topic to discuss. I especially appreciated the reminder that the 1950s, or history in general, wasn’t “perfect” as people tend to think: there were HUGE issues, and no matter what it looks like, there has been immense improvement and growth in America throughout history.
Fourth, it made me SOB. The characters were just so pure and so raw and so honest with themselves and each other, and I loved that. Juniper was ABSOLUTELY the best and honestly I just want to be like her when I grow up. I saw a review that said that she was kind of like Pippi Longstocking, except I think Juniper is more mature and also more understanding. At least, if I can’t be her, I want to be best friends with her. I LOVED Juniper and this book was 100% made better because of her.
Tl;dr, go read this book. It’s not a topic that most people would enjoy, but it is definitely one that should be read. I haven’t read a book that has made me cry in a while, but this did it, so that should be at least a sign. 🙂
If you like these books, you will love The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones-
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
- The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart
- Looking for Alaska by John Green
“Folks around here think I’m weird. So I figured, you know, it never hurts to have a friend when things are hard. And there’s nothing like an adventure to take your mind off all the bad stuff.”
“Making sense is for nerds and grown-ups. I am way more interesting”
These flowers had run wild, growing over each other, their stems twisting together and reaching skyward to the gauzy sun. The entire house was enveloped in a bouquet.
“When you trap people for hundreds of years, make their lives a living hell, they’re bound to get antsy. And furious. And so white folks think the harder they make it for us to live, the longer they’ll be able to put off a revolution.”
“And there’s a lot I can do, too, I think. Because people look at me different than they look at you. I’m safe in my skin, I mean. I don’t know what yet, exactly. But whatever I can do, I’m sure gonna do it.”
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion; I was not required to write a positive review.