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Summer Hawk

Summer Hawk

5.0 3
by Deborah Savage

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M. Taylor Armstrong-Brown. It's a good name for a journalist. When Taylor moves to the remote town of Hunter's Gap from Philadelphia, she copes by being an impartial observer. She plans on biding her time until she can escape to prep school and college. But, unexpectedly, Taylor finds herself rescuing an orphaned baby hawk and getting to know a boy she'd never


M. Taylor Armstrong-Brown. It's a good name for a journalist. When Taylor moves to the remote town of Hunter's Gap from Philadelphia, she copes by being an impartial observer. She plans on biding her time until she can escape to prep school and college. But, unexpectedly, Taylor finds herself rescuing an orphaned baby hawk and getting to know a boy she'd never imagined being friends with. When she meets the woman who runs the nearby raptor rehabilitation center, Taylor's journalistic reserve begins to break down. As the hawk heals and grows stronger, Taylor is drawn closer to the boy she'd considered a redneck - and to the passionate "Hawk Lady," whose many secrets awaken deeper emotions in Taylor than she understands. Words begin flowing from her pen, but they are not the objective notes of a news reporter. They are the stirrings of a heart taking wing.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Living for a year with her sculptor father in rural Pennsylvania, Taylor tries to hone her journalist's detached perspective. But when she rescues an injured hawk and meets the scientist who operates the nearby raptor rehabilitation center, she starts to lose her objectivity and finds herself becoming involved. Savage deftly combines a nature tale with a coming-of-age story." Horn Book
Children's Literature
It was the summer that changed Taylor's life. Since her family's move to remote Hunter's Gap last fall, Taylor has spent one long and painful freshman year in the rural Pennsylvania town's high school. Now she must decide whether she should return to Philadelphia and go to boarding school or stay put in Hunter's Gap, her father's small "home town." Her choice was easy before the summer. But when Taylor rescues an injured hawk, she also connects with the class outcast, Rail, and Rhiannon, the "hawk lady" who runs the local raptor rescue center, and complications and conflicts arise. The premise of this novel is promising and Savage writes well. However, the main character¾while smart and sophisticated¾comes off as terribly condescending toward her stereotypical "backwoods" neighbors. Her superiority complex, coupled with frequent bouts of self-pity, make Taylor very easy for the reader to dislike. Similarly, Taylor's father (a sensitive, free-spirited, nurturing artist) and her mother (a hard-nosed, workaholic business woman) are stereotypical characters as well. While many of the themes and issues raised here will appeal to a teenager, and while Taylor does make a half-hearted attempt to see the real people behind the stereotypes, in the end, the story does not ring true. 2001, Puffin,
— Dianne Ochiltree
To quote the KLIATT review of the hardcover, from March 1999: Taylor has just spent a difficult year in the Pennsylvania countryside, miserable in school and friendless. Her father is a sculptor working happily at the family farm, and her mother is unhappily trying to maintain her career in Philadelphia and coming to visit them when she is able. In the summer Taylor actually starts to make friends and she becomes involved in a project at a nearby raptor rehabilitation center. Some local people have only anger about the university project, resenting that their tax dollars are protecting hawks and other predators. The head of the project, Dr. Rhiannon Jeffries, is a stunning woman devoted to her cause but not adept at community relations. Taylor, fascinated by Rhiannon, jumps at the chance of a summer job doing public relations for the raptor center. Much of the plot is centered on the friction between Taylor's parents and their different priorities. Taylor's mother is a demanding, driven professional, and the father is a much less successful artist who is loving and expressive, but isn't very good at being responsible. His affair with Rhiannon, once discovered by Taylor, blows the family apart, and the resolution involves all of them. Readers will learn something about raptors and controversial environmental issues, about the dynamics of family life, and the demands of friendship. The story is emotional and involving, slightly exotic, and satisfying. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 1999, Penguin, Puffin, 298p., $5.95. Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Claire Rosser; September 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 5)
VOYA - Beth Gilbert
Fifteen-year-old Melissa "Taylor" Armstrong-Brown is stuck in a small town with her sculptor father, far away from the city (and mother) she knows and loves. Surrounded by the endless fields and gas station luncheonettes of Hunter's Gap, Taylor dreams of a career in journalism. Her hopes are renewed by a chance encounter with an injured hawk and Dr. Rhiannon Jeffries, the isolated "Hawk Lady" biologist, who takes the inquisitive Taylor under her wing.

As the summer before high school wears on, Taylor must decide if her education lies in the sleepy heartland of Hunter's Gap or at the elite Porter Phelps School in Philadelphia. Her once obvious decision to return to the city is complicated by the concerned, maternal figure of Rhiannon and a developing fondness for classmate Rail Bogart. Taylor is torn between the relentless demands of her overachieving mother and the desire to create a future for herself on her own terms.

Summer Hawk, in the tradition of Gary Paulsen's works, treats nature as a character to be acknowledged. However, the story line is plagued with unnecessary narrative and the ending is contrived and not completely believable given our knowledge of the characters. Nevertheless, readers will appreciate Taylor's frustration with her separated parents, her search for a purpose in life, and a desire to be understood. This long-winded yet ultimately fulfilling novel should find a home in the young adult and nature collections of any rural library.

VOYA Codes: 3Q 3P J (Readable without serious defects, Will appeal with pushing, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9).

School Library Journal
Gr 6-10-Taylor and her family have recently moved from Philadelphia to the small Pennsylvania town in which her sculptor father grew up. After coasting through one year of public school, she is looking forward to starting 10th grade at her psychoanalyst mother's alma mater, an exclusive boarding school. However, the aspiring journalist must do a summer research paper in order to participate in its honors writing program. After the teen finds an abandoned young red-tailed hawk, she and her classmate Rail take it to a neighbor who runs a raptor-rehabilitation center. This provides Taylor with a subject for her research paper; she is also hired by the center's earthy and charismatic director, Rhiannon, to handle public relations for the facility, which is facing opposition from local residents. Taylor grows more estranged from her mother, who is rarely there, and grows increasingly closer to her new friends. Her world collapses when she discovers that her father and Rhiannon are having an affair. After her parents work through this crisis, Taylor decides to stay where she is, editing her high school's first literary newspaper and spending time with Rail. The author uses raptors, and especially the red-tail, as metaphors for the heart's yearning to be free and strong, and to be a survivor, as Taylor and her hawk both are. Savage skillfully addresses the myriad themes and issues that weave through this novel-conservationists vs. hunters, dual-career families, ambition, fidelity, the importance of family, a budding first romance, and mental illness. Fast paced yet thoughtful, the book is satisfying on all counts.-Ellen Fader, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR
Kirkus Reviews
From Savage (Under a Different Sky, 1997, etc.), a slow, clichéd novel about a smart, sophisticated, ambitious teenager stuck in a small town while her future looms large; the rescue of hawks is the excuse for some overwrought allusions to flight and freedom.

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.75(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Deborah Savage is the author of a number of books for young adults, including, Summer Hawk, winner of the Boston Authors Award for young adult literature 2000, To Race a Dream, and Under a Different Sky, which School Library Journal called in a starred review, "endlessly fascinating and appealing." She lives in western Massachusetts.

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Summer Hawk 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Great book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love this book so much I've read it over 5 times now! It is excellent for teens trying to find their way in life. I love it very much!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. Taylor is a very conflicted girl living with her dad in Hunter's Gap. She is academically gifted and her mother has very high expectations of her but when she rescues a red-tailed hawk with a classmate, all her priorities change. The novel will hold you from the opening sentence to the last word.