12-year-old May is not a troublemaker, but because of recent circumstances, she's definitely been acting like one. Living with her grandmother, a woman extremely depressed about the absence of May's mother, and her father, a man emotionally checked out of his daughter's life, only entering to make a poor attempt at keeping May "in line." In a fit of rage at a teacher, May makes a decision that lands her in summer school, alone with "Movado the Avocado," the worst teacher EVER.
Over the course of the summer, May is spiteful, mean, and rude to Miss Movado, having bottled up anger over her mother leaving, her father's lack of attention, her living situation, and her grandmother's depression. In bits and pieces, Miss Movado is able to reach May (though this child sure does make it hard), with attention, education, and a little bit of manual labor. The pair form a unique, yet incredibly sweet relationship, and soon May begins to realize how wrong her manner of dealing with her home life has been.
I am a big fan of Cecelia Galante's The Patron Saint of Butterflies, (though that one is definitely a YA read and much, much darker in subject matter) and even with this particular novel, being aimed at younger children, Galante still manages to create characters the reader can connect to, with emotional depth and a certain fire to their personality, whether it be in May's anger-filled heart or Miss Movado, a somewhat lonely woman with a quick tongue.
I didn't find the story unique, but the characters were really nicely written, making THEM the heart of the book, rather than the plot...which is fine with me.
The Summer of May
Simon and Schuster
Review copy provided by publisher