Watermelon Summer by Anna Hess
I have been a big fan of Anna Hess and her almost “off the grid” lifestyle for a long time. I’ve followed her blog and chatted with her via email for at least a year or more, and I bought (and reviewed) her non-fiction book, The Weekend Homesteader. When I found out she was writing a Young Adult novel, her first venture into fiction, I believe, I was really excited for her, and I’m happy to say, her book, Watermelon Summer, lived up to my expectations. It is a charming coming-of-age sort of tale, involving the eighteen-year-old daughter of a woman who once lived in an “intentional community.” (Now there’s a phrase I had never heard. Turns out, an intentional community is what many of us would call a “hippie commune.”)
Forsythia is a lovely character, determined to find out more about the lifestyle–and hopefully, the bio-father–her mother had left behind all those years ago. She gives up a summer trip to Europe and heads to the Appalachian mountains instead, planning to spend the summer at Greensun, the intentional community she had heard so many stories about. Along the way, she meets the intriguing and very sweet Jacob, whose beautiful blue eyes distract Forsythia at times, but who turns out to be a staunch ally and great working partner. And she discovers that not everyone is who they first appear to be, as evidenced by an enormous betrayal.
The book taught me a lot of things about a lifestyle I was entirely unfamiliar with, and I thoroughly enjoyed the adventures and characters Forsythia met along her journey to find her own true path. Anna’s straightforward writing style was perfect for this tale, and I’m going to be looking for more such books from her in the future. A sequel to Anna and Jacob’s story would be nice, too.
On a fun note, there are some drawings and excerpts from Forsythia’s journal included in the back of the book, and they added a very nice touch, indeed. Well done!
If you are looking for a book a bit different from the usual, Watermelon Summer might be just the ticket. And look at that fabulous cover! What could say love and summer better?
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