Monday, April 24, 2023

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with a review of The Firefly Summer by Morgan Matson

The Firefly Summer by Morgan Matson
Format:  E-ARC
Publisher:  Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Number of pages:  400
Publishing:  May 2nd, 2023
Source: Edelweiss +

Opening Lines:  "I could tell something was wrong the moment I came downstairs." 

Ryanna (Ry) lives in Los Angeles with her father, the former movie director turned screenwriter and his new wife, Ginger.  Ryanna's mom died when she was three and since the wedding it's just been the three of them.  Now that school is out for the summer, Ry has been looking forward to some peace and quiet and lots of reading, but then a letter arrives from her grandparents, the Van Camps.  These are her mom's parents and neither Ry or her dad have spoken to them since her mom's death.  They would like her to come to their summer home, a camp in the Poconos "while she still can".  

At first Ryanna is reluctant to give up all the summer plans that she made with Ginger and her dad but learning more about her mom's side of the family is too hard to resist.  Especially when she sees a picture of her mom at her age and the camp in the background.  Perhaps her grandparents can explain why they've been estranged from her for so long and what they fought with her dad about.  Maybe they even have stories and memories they can share about her mom.  Plus, Lake Phoenix sounds like it could be relaxing, a quiet place to read by the Lake.  However, when Ry arrives at the camp, she is greeted by all of her relatives.  Aunts, uncles and a slew of rambunctious cousins that she never knew she had.  At first, Ry feels like a fish out of water but as she gets to know her relatives and they begin to share their memories of her mom, Ry can't imagine being anywhere else.  Her summer begins to be filled with campfires, s'mores, swimming in the lake and even finding an unexpected treasure map that seems to be linked to her mom.  While at camp, Ry also learns of a feud between her grandparents and the family that lives on the other side of the lake. The camp is supposed to be torn down as her grandfather bought the land the camp is on with only a handshake, and the son of the camp across the lake wants to turn their property into condos.  With a little help from her cousins, Ryanna is determined to bring some peace to the two families feud and help her grandparents preserve their camp by finding the missing deed.

The Firefly Summer is Morgan Matson's debut middle grade book and it's such a wonderful summertime read.  Heck if you were reading this by the lake or at a summer cabin it would perfect.  I loved the whole summer home/camp feel.  The sleeping on bunk beds, eating in a mess hall and outdoor activities.  I also enjoyed Ryanna's extended family; they were an interesting group.  These were her mom's sisters and brothers and that she had the opportunity to learn more about her mom from them was so beautiful.  I also loved how the family was able to reconcile their differences, how her dad came back into the fold and how the feud was finally ended.  For Ry to be able to form a bond with her cousins was also such a joy.  I also loved the inclusion of the treasure hunt.  The way that Ry's grandmother shared her mom's mystery book collection with her and how it led her and her cousins on a treasure hunt.  Such fun!   Yep, like I said a perfect summertime read filled with family, mystery, adventure, sparkling with all the warmth of sunshine.

I hope you'll check out all the other Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts at Greg Pattridge's blog HERE


  1. It's sounds a really charming book, how nice to discover more about the mother you never really knew, and to meet so many relatives especially as an only child. I got lovely summer holiday vibes from reading your review! Sounds a great story!

  2. Such a great sounding read for the upcoming summer. I have added it to my list of future books to enjoy. Thanks for including your review on this week's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday.

  3. I love summer camp stories-- I've never seen a summer camp story paired with an estranged family, so this sounds really different and sweet. Thank you for sharing!

  4. any story with camping and s'mores has my attention. Definitely going to look for a copy of this one.

  5. This sounds like a great summer camp story. I'm glad you enjoyed it so much. I don't usually read summer camp stories--not sure why--but I added this to my TBR list.