What a radiant cover!! I ordered Umbrella Summer by Lisa Graff in early August and even though, I was so taken by the cover, I let it languish on my tbr bookcase until 3 days ago. I'm sure I picked it up right when I needed to read it.
It's summer vacation and Annie fills her days with reading about infectious diseases and going through boxes of band-aids. She rides her bike with full gear on and eventually starts wearing her bike helmet almost everywhere for extra protection. Her fears are sadly real because her brother, Jared has recently died of a sudden heart complication and Annie doesn't want anything to happen to her. Her fears, while real, begin to take the joy out of life and Annie begins to understand this especially after she meets her new neighbor, Mrs. Finch! Mrs. Finch has this amazing quote that parallels grief with an umbrella-I would quote it here but to do that would reveal to much-You must read it yourself to discover it. I wish Mrs. Finch would move to my neighborhood-she could help me with so much!Baking chocolate chip cookies and playing gin rummy are good solutions for many things!! Mrs. Finch was the character that gave the book depth, for me. Annie's best friend, Rebecca and her father, Dr. Young helped as well. His word wall was a wonderful addition.
The first half of the book I was mentally begging her parents to seek grief counseling for the whole family. Most of the second half of the book I spent with tears running down my face as Annie worked on closing her umbrella. Wow! This book was far more powerful then the first few chapters led me to think. It's not often that a book makes me openly shed massive tears for several chapters yet the book isn't sad; just a beautiful look at life.
I think this book deals with grief a family might have after the death of a child in a very realistically. I wanted to shake the parents many times and say "wake up! Talk to your daughter" then I reminded myself grief is different for everyone. I finished this book in a beautiful city park in Floyd, IA where I was waiting for my 14-yr-old son. The park was filled with trees just beginning their fall transformation and it was a lovely place to read. My son had been at my mom and step-father's farm, having his first hunting experience. This has been a pt. of contention for years between my son and I-me, peaceful reader, Why would you want to kill a living creature?? I think he inherited my father's hunting genes and I have to close my own umbrella just a tiny bit to let him lead his own teen-age life. I have to remind myself it is only hunting and in a controlled, safe environment with an adult male who has great respect for the earth. Finishing the book when I did helped me work all that out so thank you Lisa Graff and Mrs. Finch for helping me right at the perfect time. The book also resurfaced my own grief about my Dad's untimely death, made me mad at him for a bit on why he wasn't there to be with Tristan during this important time in his life. All this from a chapter book-see what I mean-Wow! Now, I think I will bake some chocolate chip cookies!! This book is perfect for 4th-6th grade. Lisa Graff blogs here at The Longstockings spot.