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Fourteen-year-old Melanie can't forget the handsome, mysterious boy who was her "summer romance," and when she sees his face on the cover of "People" magazine, she is determined to learn the truth about him.
MELANIE BRADERMAN SETTLED HERSELF comfortably in an armchair at her family's beach house. She propped her legs up on the coffee table and sighed happily. "I love the rain," she said, looking at the streaming windows.
"You're weird, you know that?" said Timmy disgustedly.
"You tell me so several times a day," replied Mel.
"And it never seems to do any good."
"Maybe it's because you're the one who's weird." Mel opened an Agatha Christie mystery and got prepared for a long, leisurely read.
"Mom!" yelled Timmy. "Mel said I was weird."
"I did not, Mom!" shouted Mel, putting her book down long enough to stick her tongue out at her brother. "But you are a pest. You're the Grand Pest of the World, Ruler and Leader of Pestilence, Head of—"
"Melanie! Timothy!" Mrs. Braderman stuck her head out of the kitchen. "One more cross word and you can both spend the rest of the day in your rooms. You're giving me a headache. It's too muggy to argue."
"Yeah," said Mel. "This argument's forfeited on account of mugginess."
Mrs. Braderman smiled and came into the living room. Timmy shut up. He wandered over to the screen door and stared outside at the rain.
"How long is this supposed to go on?" he asked crossly.
"No one knows," replied Mel, not looking up from her book.
"Mom?" asked Timmy again.
"Honey, I don't know," said his mother. "Where are the Reeders? Where's Jackie?"
"Well, why don't you go next door and find out?" she suggested. "You too, Mel."
"Are you trying to get rid of us?" asked Melanie. "I'm very happy right here. Miss Marple is on the verge of cracking this whole case wide open. And the police don't have a clue as to what's going on ... Get it? A clue?"
"When I was your age," replied Mrs. Braderman, "I was still reading Nancy Drew."
"Times are changing, Mom."
"I guess so." Mrs. Braderman sat down on the couch, curling her legs underneath her. She picked up a large needlepoint canvas and began stitching carefully.
Timmy slipped into his yellow slicker. "Okay," he announced. "I'm going to look for Jackie. If I can't find him, I'm going to the Harbor Store."
"All right, sweetie."
"Bring back some Peanut M&M's," called Melanie.
"Mel, your teeth, your complexion."
"I know, Mom," said Mel. "Mint condition. And all thanks to chocolate."
Timmy left, allowing the screen door to bang shut. Melanie could hear his bare feet slap along the wet boardwalk that led to Sea Gull Walk, which ran in front of their house.
"Mom?" asked Mel. "Do you get bored out here? Or lonely?"
"Oh, I suppose I do sometimes, sweetie. But I wouldn't want to give up the island."
"I know what you mean."
The Bradermans had been spending summers in their little beach house on Fire Island since before Melanie was born. Summer was spelled B-E-A-C-H as far as Melanie was concerned. She loved Fire Island, she loved the sun and sand and ocean, and she loved their cottage. It was just right for her family. There were three small bedrooms, one for her parents, one for Timmy, and one for Melanie and her older sister, Dorothy (who preferred to be called Dee). There was the living room with its wood-burning stove and the many windows that faced the bay. On hot days, the living room was breezy and cool. On cold days, it could be heated cozily by the stove. And there was the kitchen. That was all there was to Moonrise House, and Melanie thought every square inch of it was perfect.
She even liked the name. All the houses in Davis Park had names. Some were corny. For instance, the name of the doctor's cottage was Bedside Manor. Every time Melanie showed it to someone new, she felt as if she had to say, "Get it? Bedside Manor?"
The only thing Mel did not like about Fire Island was that it was too far from New York City for her father to commute to work. He had to stay at their home in Bronxville by himself during the week and could only join the rest of the Bradermans on the weekends. During the summers he usually took three-day weekends, but even so, Mel thought her parents were a little lonely from Monday to Thursday when they were apart.
Mel herself almost never felt lonely. First of all, she enjoyed being alone, and second, Lacey Reeder, her summertime best friend, lived in Starfish House, the cottage next door. Lacey had just turned fourteen, which was exactly Melanie's age. Her nine-year-old brother, Jackie, was Timmy's age (and his summertime best friend), and their sixteen-year-old sister, Jeanmarie, was Dee's age (and her summertime best friend). It was a perfect arrangement, Mel thought, except for the fact that the Reeders' home was in New York City, which was why she and Lacey were only summertime best friends. They saw each other day in and day out from the end of school until Labor Day, and then only two or three times until the following summer.
Mel sighed. It was already the first week in August. Summer was on its last legs. In a little over a month she'd be back in school. Not only that, she'd be starting as a freshman at Bronxville High. She sighed again. She hated being a new kid anywhere.
"Something wrong?" asked Mrs. Braderman, looking up from her needlework.
Melanie put down her book, which she hadn't been reading at all. "I was just thinking about school."
"Mel, you've got weeks before it starts."
"Only four. At the beginning of the summer there were thirteen. I like having a big cushion between me and school."
"I thought you liked school."
"I do ... I guess."
"Are you nervous about the high school?"
"A little. But it's worse than that. Mom, do you know that I am fourteen years old and I've never had a boyfriend? I don't think I've ever even been whistled at."
"Count your blessings. But I don't see any good reason why you've never been whistled at."
Mel stretched out her legs and looked at them. They were nice and tan after nine weeks in the sun, but Mel frowned. "My legs are too skinny. I'm too skinny."
"You've got lovely brown eyes and beautiful hair. Most people would give their eyeteeth for hair like yours."
It was true. Mel did have nice hair. It was a rich, dark brown that streaked red in the sun. And it had just enough wave so that Mrs. Braderman assured Melanie she'd never have to spend a hundred dollars to get it permed.
"Well, where are my lovely eyes and beautiful hair getting me?" asked Mel. "Dee's had thousands of boyfriends. Some of them could go right up on a Hunk-of-the-Month calendar."
"Hello!" called a voice from the front door.
"Come in, Lacey," said Mrs. Braderman, "and do something about Melanie. She's wallowing in self-pity."
Lacey grinned and hung up her raincoat by the screen door.
Mel studied Lacey critically as she crossed the room and sat down next to Mrs. Braderman on the couch. If Mel was pretty, then Lacey was gorgeous. And of course, being from New York City, she was sophisticated. Very sophisticated. Her hair really was permed. Furthermore, it was blond. At least, it had started the summer that way. By August, thanks to the sun, it was blonder than blond. It was the color of cornsilk. And Lacey was tall, tan, not too thin, always wore designer clothes, and had never, ever had a pimple. Anywhere. Sometimes Mel felt plain and ordinary next to Lacey. But she knew that Lacey, who tended to be shy, valued Mel's imagination and sense of humor. In the end, Mel thought, they balanced each other nicely.
"Well, I know something that will make Mel feel better," said Lacey.
"What?" asked Mel.
"I just heard the weather report. Clearing tonight. Sunny and hot tomorrow."
"Goody," said Mel. "But you know I don't mind the rain."
"I know. But rain is fine, beach is better, I always say."
Mel giggled. "You do?"
"Always," replied Lacey. "Want to play Trivia Chase?"
"Sure. Want to play, Mom?"
"Why not?" replied Mrs. Braderman.
"Let's pig out while we're at it," added Mel, jumping up and making a dash for the kitchen.
"Mel, your teeth, your complexion."
"You worry too much, Mom."
"I can't help it. I'm your mother. Mothers worry."
"Well, worry about getting me a boyfriend. That's a more pressing problem."
Mel returned to the living room with a bag of potato chips, a quart of ice cream, and a package of brownies. "Okay, let's play."
Lacey had been right. The weather cleared, and the next morning Mel woke to the sounds of sea gulls crying and birds rustling the shrubbery outside her bedroom window. That was another thing she liked about Davis Park. It wasn't barren and open like most beach areas. It was lush and green. Trees and shrubs grew everywhere. When she was in the center of the island, Mel could almost imagine that she was lost in a large forest—except for the sound of waves breaking not far away. And she really did feel far from civilization. Davis Park had a restaurant on the beach, a tiny post office, fire-station, police station, and a general store and ice-cream stand by the docks on the bay side, but that was it. No shops, no movie theaters. Cars weren't even allowed on that part of the island. There were no roads for them. People pulled red wagons along the boardwalks instead.
Mel stretched luxuriously and pushed aside the window shade to get a look outside. She saw a sparkling blue sky and bright sunshine.
Across the room, Dee moaned and rolled over. "Put the shade back," she mumbled.
"But Dee, it's a beautiful day. Come on, get up. Let's go to the beach right now. We can spend the whole day there."
"In a minute."
Mel knew that Dee's "in a minute" could mean anywhere from thirty seconds to several hours. She changed into her bathing suit and tiptoed into the living room, where she discovered that she was the only one up. She didn't care. She liked having the early morning hours to herself. Mel made a cup of tea and took it out to the front deck. She was about to sit down with it when Lacey wandered onto her deck next door. Mel waved. Lacey waved back and ran down Starfish's walk and up Moonrise's.
"Hi," she whispered.
"Hi. Let's eat breakfast on the beach and spend the whole day there."
Mel drank her tea quickly, and she and Lacey gathered their things together and set out for the beach.
Mel enjoyed early morning on the beach. It wasn't deserted—she saw several joggers, two people walking their dogs, a woman with a baby on her back, and two men and a woman fishing—but it was quieter than at any other time of the day.
She and Lacey spread out their towels and dug into a breakfast of doughnuts and orange juice. Two hours later Timmy and Mrs. Braderman joined them. A half an hour later the rest of the Reeders showed up, and an hour after that, Dee struggled down to the beach.
"Let's play Frisbee," Timmy suggested.
"Okay," agreed Mel. "Come on, Lace."
Mel, Lacey, Timmy, and Jackie ran to the water's edge.
Timmy let the Frisbee fly, and—crack!—it struck a boy full in the face.
Mel gasped. "Timmy, you klutz!"
She ran to the boy, who was holding his hands over his nose. "Are you all right?" she asked him. "I'm really sorry. My brother didn't mean to hit you. Sometimes he doesn't aim too well."
Timmy kicked Mel's ankle and she made a face at him.
The boy, who was about Mel's age, took his hands from his nose and blinked at Mel, Timmy, Lacey, and Jackie, who had crowded around him. "I think I'll live," he said pleasantly. "It wasn't traveling very fast."
"Are you sure?" asked Mel. "We could walk you over to Bedside Manor."
"You know, the doctor's."
"Oh, no. I'm fine. Really."
Mel looked at the boy's face. It seemed all right—no bump or bruise. In fact, it seemed better than all right. Mel suddenly decided it was the most gorgeous face she'd ever seen. Wide-set brown eyes looked back at her from under a mop of dark curls. A handful of freckles were scattered across his nose. And a grin that lit up his entire face.
"Well, I better be going," said the boy. "See you." He smiled, waved, and began walking away.
"Wait!" cried Mel.
The boy turned around. "What?"
"It's ... nothing. See you," replied Mel.
The boy waved again and walked on.
Timmy and Jackie ran into the ocean, the Frisbee forgotten.
Mel turned to Lacey. "I think I'm in love," she said.CHAPTER 2
MEL AND LACEY STAYED on the beach until long after what Mel thought of as "prime time." By five o'clock, when the sun was growing weaker and people were starting to gather their sandy possessions and head for their houses, Lacey stood up. "Mel, I've got to go," she said. "I need a shower. I smell like seaweed. Mom and everyone left half an hour ago."
Mel barely heard her. She was scanning the beach for the gorgeous boy Timmy had smashed with the Frisbee. She'd been watching hopefully for him all day. "Mel?" said Lacey. "What?"
"Earth to Mel. Earth to Mel. Come in, Mel. Over." Mel giggled. "Sorry. What did you say?" Lacey sighed. "I feel like a broken record. Ever since you saw that boy, I've had to repeat everything I say to you. I said I'm going back to the house now. It's late. Aren't you coming?"
"I guess." Mel rose reluctantly and shook out her towel. She threw her Agatha Christie book and her tape player into her beach bag and ambled toward Moonrise, dragging along behind Lacey.
"He probably hasn't spent much time on Fire Island," Mel commented as they passed Bedside Manor.
"What?" said Lacey. "Who hasn't?"
"That boy. Everyone in Davis Park knows what Bedside Manor is."
"Well, maybe he just hasn't been to Davis Park before."
"Nope," said Mel. "He hasn't been on the beach this summer. Did you notice his skin? It hasn't seen the light of day in weeks."
"Detective Mel," said Lacey. "I think you've been reading too many mysteries."
Mel smiled. "Well, it pays off. I mean, already I know two things about him. One, he's new here, and two, he's just beginning his vacation."
"What do you mean, 'already'?"
"Hmm," replied Mel. "I'm not sure."
Lacey looked at Mel over her shoulder. "You're acting weird."
"You know, Timmy said the same thing to me just yesterday."
"Hopeless, too? Weird and hopeless. That doesn't sound very promising."
Lacey giggled. "Want to get ice cream after dinner?"
"Are you kidding? A scoop of cookies 'n' cream contains sugar, fat, and, most important, chocolate. All the right ingredients. Of course I want to get ice cream."
"Good. Come over after dinner."
"Okay. See you."
"See you." The girls separated at the walk to Moonrise House.
Mel waited until almost nine o'clock before going next door to the Reeders'. There was something exciting and also uniquely summery about getting ice-cream cones after dark. Mel liked the feel of walking through the blackness, the night air warm and breezy, and emerging from the trees onto the dimly lit boat docks.
At the Reeders', Mel and Lacey each tucked a dollar bill into their pocket before they set out for the ice-cream stand. The docks were busy as usual. The people who owned boats and were spending several days at Davis Park were lounging around on their decks, barbecuing hamburgers or visiting with friends. The island people streamed in and out of the little store, and a long line of people were waiting for cones at the stand next door.
Mel and Lacey joined the end of the line.
"I guess you'll get cookies 'n' cream as usual," Lacey said to Mel. "Let's see. Tonight it'll be a toss-up for me. Either butterscotch or chocolate-chip. Or maybe chocolate-chip mint. Or maybe just plain vanilla. If you weren't getting cookies 'n' cream, what would you get instead? Mel? ... Mel?"
Mel wasn't listening. She was staring at the head of the line. Lacey followed her gaze. "What is it?" she asked, peering into the darkness.
"It's him," Mel whispered. "The boy on the beach."
Lacey rolled her eyes. "So what?"
"I want to see what flavor he's getting. And I want to see who he's with." Mel craned her neck around. "It looks like ... yeah, I think he's getting fudge ripple. Now he's paying the guy ... now he's getting his change ... He's putting it in his pocket ... He's licking a drip on the side of his cone ... Hey, he's all alone! He's not with anybody! He's just walking toward the Harbor Store. Gosh, that's sad. All alone in a great place like Fire Island. I wonder what he has to buy at the store."
"Mel, do you know what? You are crazy. You are loony tunes."
"I've got bats in my belfry."
"Rats in your attic."
"I'm a few bricks short of a load."
"A few cards short of a deck."
"The shingles are loose on my roof."
"I am not of sound mind."
"What'll it be, girls?"
Mel looked up, startled. She'd had no idea the line was moving so quickly. "You go first," she said to Lacey.
"I'll have, um ... I'll have a scoop of butterscotch. In a cone, please."
The boy behind the counter handed Lacey a cone.
"And I'll have a scoop of fudge ripple in a cone, please," said Mel. She glanced sideways to find Lacey staring at her. "Well, it looked good," she said defensively. "And it still has all the right ingredients—sugar, fat, and chocolate."
Lacey just shook her head. "All right," she said at last. "Let's go to the store."
"The store? I don't need anything."
"I thought you'd want to see what he was doing. Maybe find out what brand of dental floss he uses."
"Oh, he's already gone. I've been watching. I guess he didn't buy anything. He walked right back out just as you were telling me I'm a few cards short of a deck."
Excerpted from Just a Summer Romance by Ann M. Martin. Copyright © 1987 Ann M. Martin. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted February 18, 2007
This was the best romance novel I have ever read. It is also a book that keeps you reading. It was the fastest I had read a book in a long time because I could not reading the book. I took that book almost where ever I went for about 5 days. This book would have to be one of my favorite books I have ever read in the 13 years of my life. This book has hooked me to reading romance novels now. I would choose the genre of romance over any kind of genre because of this book.
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Posted February 8, 2004
Posted September 23, 2002
Posted September 28, 2002
This book was soooo good! I could not put it down! I wasn't sure if I was going to like it all that much, but I decided to look beyond the cover and I happened to find a truly remarkable book!
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Posted September 6, 2000
This book is soo kool! it's just like a fanasty book. I love it. I couldn't put the book down when i read it. It's a beautifully written book.
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Posted March 31, 2000
When Melanie meets the boy of her dreams - Justin Hart, cute and easy to talk with - on Fire Island on vacation, her holiday becomes the best one yet. But there's something puzzling about him. He insists they never see eachother again and that their relationship be 'just a summer romance.' It's hard for Melanie to agree, and the situation becomes worse when she learns he's the star of a hot new TV show! If he's too busy signing autographs to fans who love just his character, will he remember the girl who loves him for just himself?
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Posted July 6, 2014
Posted February 1, 2004
One of the best books I've ever read. When I first picked up this book I thought oh it's just one of the old books you ever see laying around. But then it sucked me in. Next thing you know you're on the edge of your chair waiting to see what Mel and justin will do about their problem.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.