Quill and Quire


« Back to
Book Reviews

Somebody Else’s Summer

by Jeean Little

On a flight from Vancouver to Toronto, 10-year-olds Alexis and Samantha meet and cook up a plan far beyond either of their wildest dreams. Due to extenuating family circumstances, both girls are being shipped off for the summer to the homes of family friends whom neither has met before. (Coincidentally, the two homes are just down the street from one another.) As they chat, the girls realize they’d rather be doing what the other is doing. So Alex becomes Sam and Sam becomes Alex for the summer. The masterful Jean Little, one of Canada’s most beloved authors for young readers, sheds a fresh light on the perennially popular “trading places” storyline.

Humour and tension abound as the girls, in the home where the other girl is supposed to be, struggle to remember their “new names” and the hastily pieced-together details of the other’s life. Little perfectly balances the two girls’ points of view, shifting seamlessly between the two without even a tinge of confusion. Alex and Sam are as well drawn and as immensely likeable as we have come to expect from the award-winning Little, and the friendship that grows out of their unusual situation is sweet and believable. Their relationship with the elderly Mr. Carr, Alex’s next-door neighbour, who’s the only person in on their secret, adds another layer of intrigue and complexity to the story.

While the plot may seem a bit implausible at times – how many parents of 10-year-olds would leave them for the entire summer and telephone only once? – the very idea of two girls switching places necessitates a certain level of implausibility. This suspension of disbelief in an otherwise realistic story is also one of its delights, and will surely have young readers wondering if they could plot their own swap with a friend. With Somebody Else’s Summer, Little has created not only an entertaining story but a well-crafted meditation on the ever-complicated web of family relationships and the power of friendships.


Reviewer: Christy Goerzen

Publisher: Viking/Penguin


Price: $20

Page Count: pp

Format: Cloth

ISBN: 0-670-04466-0

Released: Aug.

Issue Date: 2005-5


Age Range: 8-12