The Summer of Bad Ideas by Kiera Stewart


Goodreads: The Summer of Bad Ideas
Series: None
Source: Gift
Published: 2017


Catch a snake bare-handed.  Discover hidden treasure.  Dance in the hurricane.  When Edie and her cousin Rae discover a list written by their grandmother when she was teen, Edie thinks it is the perfect opportunity for her to transform.  Her classmates think she’s boring, but Edie knows she can become cool if she can just complete the list.  It’s just that…some of her grandmother’s ideas seem very, very bad.

Star Divider


The Summer of Bad Ideas is a classic summertime middle-grade novel, all about growing up, losing friends, and finding one’s self.  Edie is worried that her best friend forever is drifting away.  Once she and Taylor were only two in school whose over-protective mothers prohibited them from doing, well, anything.  Now Taylor is going to summer camp while Edie is stuck going through her dead grandmother’s estate.  But an old list written by her grandmother as a teenager gives Edie the opportunity she has been waiting for–the opportunity to become the kind of person Taylor will still want as a friend.  But, of course, checking off the list proves more difficult than Edie imagined.

Readers of contemporary middle grade will find no surprises here.  The plot is pretty standard, with Edie attempting to change herself, only to discover 1) that she is changing in ways she never imagined and 2) that she rather likes who she is, after all.  Losing some friends and gaining new ones is depicted as a natural part of life, a scenario that is painful at first, but one that a person can survive.  And the romance is subtle and sweet enough to satisfy readers just beginning to become interested in crushes.  Readers who like this sort of book will like The Summer of Bad Ideas.

What makes such a book stand out is generally the characters.  Edie and her cousin Rae are both realistic and likable–not perfect, but certainly understandable.  They are supported mainly by Edie’s family, especially her “genius” twin siblings, who like to spout fun facts and bombard people with trivia questions.  I would not call any of the characters particularly memorable, but they are solid and they are sympathetic enough to ground the story.

The Summer of Bad Ideas does not ultimately stand out from a wide range of other contemporary middle grade novels.  However, it is still an engaging book, one middle grade readers will likely enjoy.

3 Stars

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