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Book Reviews

Sky Lake Summer

by Peggy Dymond Leavey

The residents of Sky Lake were never quite sure what happened to the inhabitants of a remote house that was devastated by fire in 1930. Almost 70 years later, 13-year-old Jane Covington reopens the mystery when she discovers a young woman’s plea for help tucked inside a discarded library book. Visiting her grandmother’s summer cottage, Jane pursues the events of the past with determination and cool logic – interviewing elderly inhabitants of the town, checking out old newspaper articles, and finally linking a visitor to Sky Lake with the tragedy that took place years before.

Sky Lake Summer is a low-key, thoughtful mystery. The narrative is not peopled with adolescent super-sleuths who chase robbers or foil international terrorists with improbable finesse. Jane’s best friend, Corrie, is actually rather timid. Jesse, a local boy, is too caught up in recovering from his own brush with the law to show sustained interest in the case. While uncovering the secrets behind the deadly fire, Jane is quietly called upon to explore personality, motivation, and the notion that dreams can connect someone to another person or time. This introspection about the past eventually allows Jane to develop a greater understanding of those who inhabit her own world.

Young readers who demand a plot crammed with crises may be disappointed. More sophisticated types will enjoy Leavey’s third novel, recognizing Jane’s adventure not as a flight into escapism, but as a plausible event they could experience during summer vacation.