This One Summer

Rose and her parents have been going to Awago Beach since she was a little girl. It’s her summer getaway, her refuge. Her friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had, completing her summer family. But this summer is different. Rose’s mom and dad won’t stop fighting, and Rose and Windy have gotten tangled up in a tragedy-in-the-making in the small town of Awago Beach. It’s a summer of secrets and heartache, and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.

Spud Sweetgrass

Suspended from school for cussing at a mean teacher, John “Spud”’ Sweetgrass at least still has his job selling french fries from a curbside “chip wagon.” But he notices that something stinks — literally. It’s the smell of rancid cooking oil at a polluted Ottawa beach. His suspicions aroused, Spud follows Dumper Stubbs, a creepy delivery man who services local restaurants and chip wagons. Spud gets angry when he sees Dumper living up to his name, dumping oil into a storm drain and causing terrible pollution in the river. When Spud blows the whistle, he loses his job. Enlisting the help of his buddy Dink the Thinker, and Connie Pan — whom he calls his girlfriend though she isn’t exactly that — Spud thinks he has a chance of regaining his job and stopping the Dumper’s harmful activities. In the background of this offbeat farce are serious issues that Spud must also deal with, including his father’s death, his mother’s withdrawal into grief, and his own awkward transition through adolescence. Brian Doyle expertly interweaves comedy and important contemporary concerns of young people in this vivid story with a message.