Review :: Jelly Bean Summer :: Joyce Magnin

May 13, 2017

Another middle grade war book today - this time we are in the US in 1968. It's summer and Joyce has moved into a tent on the roof  because everything in her house is too weird (her sister sees UFOs and her brother is MIA in Vietnam).


Magnin has done a wonderful job of writing from a child's point of view. I found the voice of the narrator really authentic - Joyce feels naive, and young, and hopeful all at once. It also manages to capture that frustration of feeling like the 'grown-ups' aren't telling you everything, and the tension of wanting to know, but also wanting to stay carefree. I think my favourite thing about this book was how personal Joyce's narration was - it often feels like she is writing a journal, or confessing to a friend.

I like the way the book gives a young reader some exposure to war and its consequences - there is some discussion about death, and the fact that soldiers might be expected to kill, and a character whose brother had been killed - but without being too confronting, or, I guess, scary. I don't have a lot of experience with middle grade readers (apart from having been one myself quite some time ago!), but this felt like a good way to introduce and start to explore some of these issues.

As well as the exploration of these themes giving the reader a lot to think about, the story itself was a lot of fun. I love a kid scheme/project - those crazy plans that an adult would never even think of, but kids are convinced just couldn't go wrong.

Overall it's a fun summer read (with a gorgeous cover!) - I gave it three stars.
Jelly Bean Summer by Joyce Magnin is out now from Sourcebooks. I received an e-book of Jelly Bean Summer in exchange for an honest review.

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  1. This sounds like such a good read.
    (wow, what an awesome comment leaver I am -___- )