genre: young adult
It's been a LONG time since I read a book that made me forgo all other plans and curl up in my bed until the last page was turned. I love when I have to do that.
What is a Song for Summer? It's a romance, pure and simple - but a romance that begins in the most tumultuous of times in a place on the brink of war. Hitler is already stirring and making life difficult in Germany when Ellen arrives in a picturesque village in Austria. The run-down boarding school where she's taken a position is the least likely place to find love, which is fine for Ellen, who has so much more on her mind than finding a man to marry. However, when the fallout of a war's beginning touches Ellen's life, she does not shirk and we follow Ellen's story throughout Europe as the love that we know she's found works itself out amidst the uncertainty of the Third Reich's advance.
I just don't want to spoil any of the rest of the plot. It's too good, even if it took a detour that caught me completely by surprise and I had to work my way back into the story. Let me just say there are opera divas and storks, musicians and rescues, and one of my favorite scenes of community togetherness that I've ever read. Ibbotson's writing is so, for lack of a better word, RIGHT for this story, it felt real and poignant without being sentimental. While perhaps TOO good, I loved believing in Ellen's goodness, her appreciation for well cooked meals and children who are taken care of. So many things that interest me were tied into this book that while perhaps some of the characters seemed slightly one-dimensional, I just loved the story so much that I didn't care in the slightest.
One thing that this book made me think of was the strength of the British when under attack during the war - and about those ordinary people in mainland Europe who would go to such efforts to save even one person from death. I just like reading about people who will stand up and do the right thing even when the odds are absolutely stacked against you. So there was love AND all that other good stuff. What more could I ask for than that?
Thanks Melissa, for assigning this one to me :)