‘The Mixed-Up Summer Of Lily McLean’ is the debut novel from Linday Littleson. It tells the tale of Lily who is coming to the end of her final year at Primary School and is getting ready for her summer of freedom. In some ways she feels she is going to have the best summer ever having a holiday away from her dysfunctional family but this is tainted by the fact she keeps hearing a voice. Lily is trying desperately to work out just what is going on. Is she being haunted or is she going crazy, all she knows for sure is that it’s driving her to distraction.
The story opens with a feeling of chaos as Lily and her family have been forced to move to a smaller house to escape an alcoholic step-father. Lily is struggling to maintain her sanity in a house with a hormonal and volatile teenager Jenna, her two younger brothers Bronx and Hudson and her baby sister Summer. She is forced to seek sanctuary in the cupboard under the stairs but even there she can’t hide from this voice who appears to be warning her. Having the chance to get away from her family and spend a week away with her Gran seems like bliss but if only Lily could work out who this voice is and what it wants with her she might just be able to enjoy herself.
While I was compelled to read this book quickly to find the truth behind the voice I also enjoyed the fact that the book tackles lots of different issues that children may be facing. Despite Lily not fitting in with the popular crowd she still had strong friendships which offers reassurance to those who may be feel the same. The story has lots of humorous moments like Lily’s Mum giving her ‘the talk’ on the train in front of everyone, which I’m sure anyone who reads it will totally sympathise with her.
This books is a real mix of funny, sad and poignant moments and to me it feels real and genuine which enables the reader to really empathise with Lily. It captures perfectly that time of innocence where children can still enjoy picnics and bike rides without having succumbed to too many pressures of growing up. You can feel that Lily is on the verge of being confronted by the inevitable changes but for now she can enjoy this time in her life. This is definitely an enjoyable read and I can see it having real appeal in my school library. I would definitely recommend it as the ideal book for children facing this transition from primary to secondary school.
A big thank you to Lindsay Littleson for sending me a copy to review.