- Alisha Barnes
The Summer I Learned to Fly by Dana Reinhardt is a coming-of-age story in which Drew, the female protagonist, matures into a teenager experiencing both a new love and parental disputes. Drew is a thirteen-year-old girl who spends most of her time with her mother at their cheese shop, unlike most of the girls at her school who spend most of their time angry with their mothers and completely boy-crazy. This makes her less popular with others at her school. Her life basically revolves around the cheese shop where her friend Suwuzie, a middle-aged woman going through a divorce, and Nick, her crush who is a surfer turned pasta maker, work for her mom. School is about to end and she intends to spend the entire summer at the cheese shop.
This is until Drew finds Emmett. She meets him when she loses her pet rat, Hum, who isn't supposed to be at the cheese shop, ever. While searching at the shop, Drew meets a young guy, Emmett, whose history is more complicated than she could have imagined.
Drew finds her first real friend in Emmett. As their relationship grows, it becomes harder for Drew to control her emotions. Their friendship causes tension with her mother, who worries for her daughter's safety as mother and daughter begin to grow apart. Drew and her mother have only had each other since Drew's father's death when she was 3 years old, so when Drew's teenage years pull them apart, it's hard on both of them to try to hold their lives together.