I was very excited to attend the launch party of Vikki VanSickle’s Summer Days, Starry Nights two years ago. I had read the synopsis of her novel, and was instantly interested in seeing where I could fit it in our school reading lists. Alas, the day of the party came and went, and I neither met VanSickle nor bought her book hot off the press. (I really hate it when school/work gets in the way of book-related activities, don’t you?) Anyway, I bought a copy of SDSN that week (the happily dog-eared copy in our library), and eagerly anticipated a free afternoon to enjoy some coffee and Canadiana. The following Saturday, much to my delight, I came across an announcement that VanSickle was going to do a signing at the Chapters right near the school. I happily raced over after work and, upon entering the bookstore, was greeted by the friendliest of smiles on the face of the authoress herself.
VanSickle was so generous to chat with me for 10 minutes, asking me about my munchkins (you guys), my drink in hand (venti caramel macchiato), and the titles we stock in the library (mostly MG and YA). Then, she very graciously signed a brand-new copy of SDSN as well as her other three Scholastic-published books (more on them later). I left Chapters feeling so exhilarated by our meeting that I completely forgot to replace my empty coffee cup with a full one. (Don’t worry; that was rectified soon thereafter!) Vikki VanSickle is as pleasant a person as you’ll ever meet, and a talented writer to boot. Her latest novel is one that I’m sure you will all love!
Although it’s not explicitly described this way, SDSN is a love letter to middle children everywhere. The Starr family live in and run the beautiful cottages at Sandy Shores, a resort in the Muskoka region, north of Toronto. For protagonist Reenie, this is the only home she’s known—the only place she could ever imagine calling “home”. But even the picturesque beaches outside her front door are not enough to drive away the pains of being a teenager. She’s too young to play games with her older brother, Bo, or even to be let in on the secret of his night-time adventures, but she’s old enough to be held responsible for her six-year-old sister, Scarlett, who enjoys cuddling with her in bed and following her everywhere. When a family friend, Gwen Cates, comes to Sandy Shores, Reenie is excited to have someone a few years older than she is to talk with, hang about, and even look up to. But she gets more than she hopes for, for the arrival of the ballet student from the city kick starts a summer of intrigue, self-discovery, and a few skeletons in the family closet.
Reenie is a great character to befriend. She’s authentic and down-to-earth—qualities that too many other characters of similar age lack. VanSickle truly captures the daily dilemmas of being a new teenager and a middle child. Who wouldn’t feel annoyed at being of an age where you are given responsibilities but are still questioned all the time? Who wouldn’t feel left out with a mom who decides to spend more time with visitors than you? And who wouldn’t be gobsmacked at discovering something at the last (and very wrong) moment that has been right before your eyes the whole time?
Squinks, for those of you who haven’t picked this one up yet, let me tell you that Summer Days, Starry Nights is one of those books that shines quietly in the corner but will grab hold of you as you spend the summer with Reenie. By story’s end, you’ll be like me, looking online to see if Sandy Shores exists, and wondering if somewhere near Orillia, there really is a resort full of the promise of summer days, starry nights, and scintillating magic.
Have you read VanSickle’s latest? How did you like it?
Vikki VanSickle’s Online Corners