The Summer of Letting Go

The Summer of Letting Go

by Gae Polisner


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781616204808
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Publication date: 03/31/2015
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 493,031
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 12 - 15 Years

About the Author

GAE POLISNER is the award-winning author of The Pull of Gravity. She is a family law mediator by trade but a writer by calling. She lives on Long Island with her husband and two sons. When she’s not writing, she can be found in a pool or, in warmer weather, in her wet suit in the open waters of Long Island Sound. The Summer of Letting Go is her second novel for teen readers.

Read an Excerpt

The Summer of Letting Go

By Gae Polisner


Copyright © 2014 Gae Polisner
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-61620-256-9


It's not even noon in not even July, yet already the sun bakes down hot and steady, making the air waffle like an oily mirage.

Lisette walks ahead of me, her blond ponytail bobbing happily, the stray strands lit gold by the sunshine that spills down through the fresh green canopy of leaves. Bradley holds tight to her hand, ducks to avoid the low-hanging branches. Prickles of sweat appear between his shoulder blades—dark gray spots against the pale blue cotton of his T-shirt that mesmerize me.

I shift my gaze to my spring green, no-lace Converse sneakers, wondering for the millionth time what it would feel like to have my hand in his.

As if he reads my thoughts, he turns for a second and smiles. My heart somersaults. I shouldn't feel this way about Lisette's boyfriend.

I duck my head and keep walking.

The path winds to the right. Lisette leans against Bradley into the curve, her shoulder bumping his, and he wraps his arm around her. I slow my pace and stare up through the sunny trees.

I hate summer to begin with, and it looks like I'm going to spend this one being a third wheel.

We reach the clearing that opens to Damson Ridge. Less than a minute from here to Lisette's house. Another five minutes to mine.

Lisette and I have made this trek from high school to home hundreds of times together, but today it feels different, at this hour, with Bradley Stephenson along.

We're out early for lunch in between final exams, this afternoon's test our last ever of tenth grade. Bradley's a junior, so he finished a few days ago. He's just being chivalrous walking Lisette home.

"Come on, Frankie!" She turns, still walking. "We need to hurry. We have, like, what, an hour?" But Bradley stops, sidetracked, at the edge of the path. "Are you kidding, Nature Boy?" she says. "You are so totally goofy."

I stop, too, so I don't catch up to them.

"What?" He holds out a leafy stalk he's pulled up by the roots. "It's sassafras." Lisette shakes her head and rolls her eyes, even as my heart melts. I love sassafras. My dad and I used to pick it from the fields by the elementary school, back when we did that sort of thing. "Suit yourself," he says, wiping the stem with the inside corner of his T-shirt and slipping it in his mouth. "Tastes like root beer."

"Ew, come on." Lisette pulls his arm. "I kiss those lips, you know. And, anyway, you may be done, but Frankie and I really need to eat something and get back to school. I hear Shaw's final is crazy. We need sustenance. And I don't mean root beer sticks." She veers off the path toward her street and walks backward to face me. "You coming to my house, Francesca?"

"Nah, it's hot. I think I'll go home and change."

"You sure? It's fine by me." It's Bradley who says this, not Lisette.

"Yes, but thanks." I flip a wave and keep walking.

"Okay, see you back at school," Lisette calls. "Just one more to go, Frankie, and then we're free as birds for the summer!" She blows me a kiss before skipping away with Bradley.

I watch them disappear, my heart filled with longing, my life feeling anything but free.

* * *

When I'm about to turn onto our street, I perk up. Dad's car heads toward me. His silver-gray Jeep Grand Cherokee with the sunroof and the tinted windows. He shouldn't be home. He should be at work selling houses. I guess he had no clients this afternoon.

I smile and hold up my hand to wave, but the car turns right at the prior block instead of making the left onto ours.

I figure he spaced or something, so I wait, but his car never comes back around.

* * *

When I reach home, our driveway's empty. I must have been mistaken. Dad's still at work then, and Mom's where she always is: at her desk at the Drowning Foundation.

Fine. The Simon A. Schnell Foundation for the Prevention of Blah, Blah, Blah and Whatever.

After nearly four years, I still don't get how she spends her life there. I know she thinks it somehow "gives it all purpose," but the place only makes me feel worse about things.

I stop on the stoop, kiss my fingers, and touch them to Simon's stone frog. Inside, I make a lame cheese and mayo sandwich and stand at the kitchen window, eating.

As I'm about to head upstairs to change, Mrs. Merrill appears in her window across the street through the slats of her venetian blinds. They're parted just enough to make her out, though not clearly or completely. She moves to the center of the room, seems to talk on a phone, then walks to the window, presses a few slats down, and peers out.

I duck from view. I know I'm nosy, but I'm fascinated by the little I've seen of Mrs. Merrill since she moved in the summer that Simon died.

Dad was actually the broker who sold her the house, but Mom and I were never formally introduced. It's not like we were feeling too neighborly those days, and over the years, I guess, not that much had changed. Still, I've watched her working in her garden, taken by how pretty she is, but in a sophisticated, confident way like Angelina Jolie, not a pale, fragile way, like my mother.

Mrs. Merrill lets the blinds slip back and leaves the room, so I rinse my dish and turn to go upstairs, but she reappears a second later, walking quickly past the window. This time, she's not alone, but with a man—tall, dark hair, broad shoulders—who looks awfully like my father.

My heart stops, but in fairness, it's hard to make out much through the blinds.

I tell myself to chill, but my eyes dart back to our empty driveway, and my mind to the car I saw go by a few minutes ago. Did Dad park on the next street over and sneak in through her backyard?

I look at the window again, but Mrs. Merrill and the man are gone.

* * *

As I walk back to school, I try to shrug it off. Why would it be my father? If it was my father, and he needed something from Mrs. Merrill, he would have parked in our driveway and walked across the street. Plus, he barely knows her. Why would he park somewhere else and sneak into her house in the middle of a weekday afternoon?

I know the obvious answer even if I don't want to, and all through Mrs. Shaw's English Honors final, questions circulate in my brain.

Dad has been acting funny lately, hasn't he? Too cheerful. But, of course, he's like that anyway—the only person in our family who is. But this is more than that. He seems unusually happy.

I try to keep my focus on my one remaining essay question about Homer and his poems, but it drifts to the poster on Mrs. Shaw's far wall. It's a scene from The Odyssey, which we read with The Iliad midyear.

The poster shows an old-fashioned illustration of Odysseus tied high on his ship's mast, a dark-haired siren trying to lure him with her song. In the poem, the sirens live on a magical island. Their song is enchanting but deadly, because the sailors who follow the music are led to dangerous, raging waters, where they die upon jagged rocks. Odysseus knows this, but he wants to hear them sing, so he orders his sailors to bind him there, while filling their own ears with wax.

On the poster, Odysseus strains against the ropes as the dark-haired siren reaches for him. A siren who looks uncannily like Mrs. Merrill.

What if it was my father in Mrs. Merrill's house? If it was him, don't I need to know?

If it was him, and I don't put a stop to it, there will be no hope left for my parents. I'm not naive. My parents' marriage has been teetering on the verge of destruction for years. They fight or, worse, they don't talk at all. It's not Dad's fault. Mom isn't herself anymore, and hasn't been one bit since Simon died.

Still, she's my mother, and she needs him.

She can't take more destruction.

She can't take one more person she loves being swept out to sea.


Excerpted from The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner. Copyright © 2014 Gae Polisner. Excerpted by permission of ALGONQUIN BOOKS OF CHAPEL HILL.
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.

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The Summer of Letting Go 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
SMLockport More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! Doesn't matter how old you are, this book is perfect. The characters are believable and I fell in love with them. My only complaint was that the book ended, I'll miss Beans. Wonder what she's up to now?
lakraft More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing and touching book. I absolutely loved this from beginning to end. This book is full of growth, heartbreak, emotion, love, forgiveness and understanding. You will quickly connect with the characters in the book and find yourself filled with emotion as you take this life journey with them all. This book was given to me for an honest review and I am greatfull for the opportunity. This is truly a must read!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Easy to read book and wonderfully put together plot kept me racing through it for the lovely ending. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I originally read "The Summer of Letting Go," because of the cover. I did not read the back of the book or the summary, I just checked it out and started reading away. In the beginning, the book hooks you, between learning about Simon, Francesca's fathers mysterious side, and meeting Frankie Sky, you become entrapped by the story line. However, after awhile, things begin to fall flat and you are slowly less drawn to it. An unnecessary sub plot line takes away from the main story and shadows the surrounding important details. I would not recommend this book to a critical reader, like myself, as main and important parts of the plot is rushed, and over shadowed by a single sub-plot.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I originally read "The Summer of Letting Go," because of the cover. I did not read the back of the book or summary, I just checked it out and read away. Originally, in the beginning, the book hooks you, between her dads mysterious side, and meeting Frankie Sky something hooks you. However, after awhile, things begin to fall flat. There is an unnecessary sub plot involving Francesca and another main character, and I questioned some of the morals surrounding the main plot. I would not recommend this book to a critical reader like myself, as some of the plots main parts are rushed and shoved to the side due to the sub plot going on behind the main plot.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Intriguing story. Great plot. Reading again to see if I missed anything.
chapterxchapter More than 1 year ago
The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner is a book about love, loss, hope, and moving on and is a book that will embed itself into your very soul. For the longest time, Francesca has had to live with an ache in her heart and a guilt that is one that is hard to bear at such a young age.  Four years ago, Francesca and her family were at the beach for some family time.  Francesca was responsible for watching after her little brother, Simon, while her parents snoozed.  But, as we all know, all it takes is a second…a second for a wave to sweep the legs out from the little boy and get carried out by the waves.  All it took was second for Francesca’s life to change forever. Francesca sees the way her mom looks at her, or doesn’t…She knows in her heart that her mom blames her and can’t even look at her without rehashing that awful day at the beach.  She also sees the distance between her parents.  An event like this can’t be easy on the parents too.  But she also sees the way her father glances at the pretty neighbor across the way… She notices the way they both leave at the same time, and her suspicions intensify when she finds her father at this neighbor’s house borrowing a cup of sugar, when they have more than enough sugar at home. So Francesca takes it upon herself to start following this neighbor around and find out the truth.  To catch them together so that she can tell her father that he can’t do this to their family…that she may not survive another loss.  But her sleuthing takes her to the country club where she meets a little boy, Frankie Sky, who will change her life forever. Everything about Frankie Sky reminds her of her deceased brother.  The wheels in Francesca’s head spin with a thought that her brother may have been reincarnated into the body of Frankie Sky. When I saw that The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner was reminiscent of See You at Harry’s by Jo Knowles I knew that it was one book that I definitely needed to read.  And I definitely was not disappointed.  Full of emotion and heart, The Summer of Letting Go is a book that I would definitely recommend to readers everywhere. It was heartbreaking to see all the pain and guilt that Francesca had inside of her.  It was also killing me to see the interaction between Francesca and her mother…or should I say lack thereof.  I couldn’t comprehend why her mother was being so distant with her daughter.  I understand the pain and suffering she is going through with the loss of Simon, but to completely pull away from her daughter, who needs her so much?  It broke my heart to pieces. I was infuriated by the suspicions of her father having an affair with the neighbor (so cliché).  I was angry that if this was truly happening, how he could run into the arms of another woman, rather than fix the gaping hole within his own family.  I wanted Francesca to find out the truth, but afraid for her at the same time as I didn’t want her to have to go through another painful event in her young life. And my heart broke when it came to the relationship that was developing between Francesca and Frankie Sky.  How can you fault her for finding so many similarities between him and her deceased brother?  As the story progressed, I could see the hope building up inside of her with possibly a second chance to be/see her brother again. Beautifully written and brilliantly executed, The Summer of Letting Go is a story that readers will not soon forget.   If you’re looking for the perfect summertime read, I would definitely recommend The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner.  You won’t be disappointed.
wscalfaro More than 1 year ago
For Francesca "Frankie" Schnell, "there are never any good summers, only survivable ones." This summer promises to be the same. She begins it with a huge crush on her best friend's boyfriend, a sneaking suspicion that her father is having an affair with a neighbor, her mother deeply entrenched in her charity work, and the ever-present guilt she carries with her over the death of her brother, Simon, four years earlier.  Then she meets Frankie Schyler (aka Frankie Skye), a four-year-old boy who bares a striking resemblance to her deceased brother. When the boy's mother offers Francesca a mother's helper job for the summer, she feels so drawn to the younger Frankie that she can't refuse. Soon she discovers that not only does the boy look like her brother, but she begins to believe that Simon is a part of Frankie Skye. With the help of the ever-so-honest Frankie Skye, an unexpected shoulder to cry on, a heart-breaking confession, and the attention of a special boy, Francesca learns to let go of the guilt that should never have been hers to begin with.  Polisner has crafted a story that gently enfolds the reader in it's arms, and then reveals a character's heart that is so broken that we feel the pain ourselves. As with her freshman novel THE PULL OF GRAVITY, Polisner creates authentic, fleshed-out characters whom we love from the very first page. Even secondary characters get a chance to shine. Frankie and Frankie will stay with you for a long time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gae Posner has truly crafted a novel which relates to teenagers today. Despite some of the exceptional circumstances, every person can find some connection to the world of Frankie. With multiple facets to the story describing the importance of relationships, whether they be familial of with friends, and the importance of learning to forgive yourself and others, Gae Posner has crafted a story that is a must read for this summer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the things that most parents lay awake at night fearing, is that inevitable moment when your child will face the kind of loss that could break even an adult. You hope, of course, that your child never has to face those kinds of things. I can remember the first time I realized that my dad's two younger brothers had died in a car crash when he was sixteen. My dad was speaking about it to a large group of people and broke down in tears. I was sixteen, myself, at the time, and I can remember thinking, "wow, he's still really broken up about it. Hasn't he, like, dealt yet?" Of course, some things are very hard to deal with. So I approached this book with a fair amount of trepidation- both because as a parent, I resist the idea of children suffering, and because watching my own father deal with his childhood suffering, I still feel a bit of woundedness for his sake. (I learned to feel wounded once I got over being a self-involved brat of a teen- something that is very hard to do.) The Summer of Letting Go starts several summers after the protagonist, Frankie (sometimes known as "beans") loses her brother to drowning. Frankie is still dealing with a lot of heaviness that she doesn't know how to carry, but when she finds herself wanting to be strong for a young boy who seems like the shadow of her brother, she learns that she is far more capable than she'd allowed herself to believe. It's a story about love, about loss, about fear and uncertainty, but most of all about letting go of pain enough to hold on to faith. I don't want to write too much more because I would hate to spoil the simple beauty of it. Suffice it to say I found myself holding my breath with Frankie many times, I found my heart absolutely broken in the most piercing and lovely ways, and at the end of the book I felt the pounding of hope in my chest and it was such a delicious relief. Throughout the book there is this line, "even the ocean cannot drown our souls." I have a tattoo of the Latin word for "mercy" on my back, but I'm tempted to add that line to it. So poignant, beautiful, understated and absolutely moving. Highly recommended.
khager23 More than 1 year ago
Francesca blames herself for her brother Simon's death. She was supposed to be watching him the day he drowns, and ever since, her family has completely splintered. Everyone fell apart and they did so in different directions. And when she meets a little boy, Frankie Sky, and becomes his babysitter, her life turns around. She won't tell anyone because she knows how ridiculous it sounds but she thinks that maybe Frankie Sky has a little bit of her brother's soul. The more she researches reincarnation, the more possible it seems. But as interesting as that is, it isn't the point of the story. The point is how Francesca (or Beans, as she is known to her family, best friend and beloved Frankie Sky) learns how to stop blaming herself for what happened to her brother, as well as the relationship she forges with Frankie Sky. And oh, how I love Frankie Sky. That little boy is pure magic and every scene with him was an absolute delight. This entire book was an absolute delight. I cannot possibly say enough good things about this book, so I will just say this: buy it now. Buy it from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or whatever bookstore you frequent. Buy a copy for a friend, so you have someone to discuss it with. (Or talk about it with me; I'd love that.) This makes an excellent present, as well. Do with that information as you will. Highly, highly recommended.
Sarah_UK1 More than 1 year ago
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Algonquin Book and Edelweiss.) 15-year-old Francesca/Frankie still feels guilty over the fact that she was supposed to be watching her brother when he got swept out to see and drowned. When she meets a little boy at the swimming pool who looks just like her dead brother, and was even born the day that Simon died, she begins to wonder if this little boy (also called Frankie) is the reincarnation of Simon. But does Frankie even believe in reincarnation? And is it really a good idea to start looking after Frankie, after her negligence caused her younger brother’s death? This was an okay story about a girl searching for peace and acceptance after her younger brother’s death. Frankie was an okay character, although I was surprised that she took on a job looking after a child when she was the one looking after her little brother when he drowned. I was even more surprised though when it seemed that she hadn’t learned her lesson, and didn’t watch Frankie properly at the swimming pool! The storyline was okay, but I did get bored at points. I was also quite surprised at the direction the storyline took with regards to reincarnation! There were a couple of other things going on, but the thing with Simon and Frankie was the main storyline. There was some romance, but not a lot, and we did get a bit of a love triangle going on. I wasn’t 100% impressed with the way this romance progressed, crushing on your best friend’s boyfriend is one thing, but acting on it is certainly another! The ending was okay, but I just didn’t really love this book. Overall; okay YA contemporary, 6 out of 10.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Exceptional story about a teenager trying to work out adult issues in a world that seems cold and cruel to her. The plot is rich in emotion and is a great read not only for teenagers but adults. I found it a great book to discuss with my teenager at dinner time. It's a great way to bond in this chaotic world, too. 
BlkosinerBookBlog More than 1 year ago
I wanted to read the Summer of Letting Go because it sounded like quite the emotional journey and the tough issue of feeling responsible for your little brother's death had to be something that wasn't easy to overcome. I also was curious where the story would go as to the little boy in this world structure he was really incarnated, or she just placed her grief glasses on in regards to the little Frankie. At first it appears that it is just an easy breezy beach story with Francesca being a third wheel to her best friend Lisette and the new boyfriend Bradley, who Francesca is also crushing on. Talk about drama. I wasn't sure if I could deal with that storyline, but I still stuck with it because I wanted to see how her healing process was going to go. It took a bit for me to connect with Francesca like I wanted to. Her emotions seemed closed off, that she talked about the events and her feelings and it should have had an impact on me, but it didn't for a while. But again, I stuck with it because I wanted to see her relationship with little Frankie who reminds her of Simon, her deceased brother. The idea that her brother was somehow in Frankie Sky was an interesting premise as Simon died on the same day Frankie was born. They act and look in similar ways and there is the love of the frogs. I think that her resolution was what most kept me invested in the story as well Frankie Sky's personality and precociousness. The cheating and lying and mistrust between her and Lisette, her and her family and her dad's possible affair all kept the story moving and drama filled. The best friend relationship though is sacred to me and while I know that things like this happen in the real world I know it is a hot topic and some of my readers can't stand to read about it. I think that the ending felt a bit rushed and wrapped up a little too neatly for all of the mess that was Francesca's life, but I suppose that some readers will write off as fitting for the story. I do think that I saw a lot of growth in Francesca, and her ability to learn to heal and decide the kind of life she wants to live and most importantly to stop blaming herself is really what made this story and was the most memorable looking back. Bottom Line: Emotional but somewhat flawed story of a girl's healing and the little boy who ushers it into her life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sweet story about loss
ABookishGirlBlog More than 1 year ago
REDISCOVERING LIFE’S BEAUTY AFTER AN UNSPEAKABLE TRAGEDY… Francesca is bogged down with so much guilt and anger that she is drowning in it. Blaming herself for the death of her brother, Simon, Francesca carries more baggage with her than any teenager should have to. Most people,well, would be a hot mess if they had to deal with all this baggage, but Francesca is a great teenager regardless of her circumstances.  Francesca must find the courage to not only forgive herself but she must find the strength to combat her fears and the people that are blocking the way to a beautiful life . Francesca and her mom have a rift that has been between them since the day Simon drowned. Francesca’s mom has been unable to understand the loneliness and guilt Francesca feels since Simon’s death. Francesca’s mom throws herself into running a foundation for water safety, basically, ignoring not only Francesca but also Francesca’s dad. Francesca finds the strength and courage to confront her mom about all of it, even though she did it out of anger it still took a lot of guts to confront her mom like that. This confrontation of course opens her mom’s eyes to how awful she has been to her family and  a new but still tentative relationship with her mother takes seed. Most of Francesca’s new courage comes from a cute, four-year-old boy, Frankie Sky, I know he’s cute because he talks cute, he loves frogs, and he thinks he can fly! Who couldn’t love a kid like that? Francesca lets Frankie Sky into her life along with Frankie Sky’s mom, Brooke, who is also having a hard time dealing with the loss of her husband and the challenges of being a single mother.  Together Francesca forms almost like a second family with Frankie Sky and his mom. Francesca suddenly finds herself doing things she has avoided since Simon’s death, she has been visiting the beach, going to the pool and even swimming, which she loved to do before Simon died but couldn’t bring herself to do after his death. All of these triumphs are slowly healing Francesca’s burdened soul and though she will always have her brother and the way he died etched into her memory forever she realizes that she must stop walking around like a ghost and must shake off the shackles of the past and grab onto life’s beauty in the present. Even though some things are going right in Francesca’s life some things are tormenting her, Why does Frankie Sky look so much like her brother, Simon? Is it her being weird? Or maybe a strange coincidence? But there are other similarities to. Could Frankie Sky be Simon? Reincarnated? Transmigrated? All the signs throughout the book point to it and Francesca is having a hard time letting go the possibility of it. Then there is Bradley, the boy that Francesca loves but who is also her best friend, Lisette’s. boyfriend. There is some secret kissing, hand holding, and talking about crabs ( the seafood kind not the other kind!) and even though Francesca knows it’s wrong she cannot seem to stop doing it, then Lisette finds out. I found this book to be a soul-warming read and I feel in love with many of the characters, especially little Frankie Sky. Well written with the story flowing along as if a teenager was really telling it to you, some YA books the narrators sound more like adults then the teenagers they are suppose to be. Sometimes life just seems to work itself out for the best and this is what happens to Francesca’s life. Finding the beauty of life all around you instead of drowning in the past is how Francesca will have to live her new-found life because “Not even the ocean can drown our souls.”
Kimmiepoppins More than 1 year ago
Every once in awhile you find an author who thinks about the world in the same "strange way" that you do and it makes you feel less lonely. The first time that ever happened to me was when I was in the 10th grade and I read Lois Lowry's THE GIVER for the first time. I hadn't realized that there was someone else who wanted answers to the same kind of questions that churned my soul. Since then I've been blessed to find more and more writers who make me feel as if my convoluted thoughts are a beautiful thing. After reading Polisner's THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO, I've added another name to the list of people I feel a deep connection to. THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO is a tapestry of truths and emotions. It's a love letter to those of us who find it hard to forgive ourselves for being human. It's about loss and discovery and maybe more than anything else, it's about perspective and forgiveness. Through the life of Frankie, we learn that every day we have the opportunity to create the new person we'll get to be tomorrow.  Don't let this beautiful book pass you by. <3
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book. Sooo good and magical. Recommend.