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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Wherever It Is Summer
by Tamara Bach
Age Range: 14+
Seventeen-year-old Louise and thirteen-year-old Jana both long for different things: Jana wants her parents to reunite and to recapture the happy family she once had before her brother Tom ended up in a coma. Louise feels like she is forever chasing her tail as she learns to drive and prepare for her test while holding down two jobs – a newspaper round, and shop assistant at the Corner Bakery while her distracted parents lead busy lives working shifts at the local hospital leaving little time to spend with their daughter.
The last thing either of the girls is looking for during this hot and boring summer is a friend of totally the wrong age. However, a chance meeting in a park leads to a strange bonding between the two when they ‘borrow’ a car and head off for a day at the lake. Their day out consists of simple pleasures: swimming in the lake, playing mermaids, eating ice cream, singing and watching the stars as the night draws in. The friendship formed between them turns out to be profound especially when Jana’s brother Tom dies as it is Louise’s touching and amusing postcards that help her cope with the depression she is sinking into.
Wherever it is Summer by Tamara Bach, one of Germany’s leading authors for young adults, and translated by Siobhán Parkinson is written in the alternating voices of its two protagonists. The style prose can sometimes be difficult to follow as it weaves from one thought process to another and between the two girls narrative but it is nevertheless a powerful and poignant story of the redemptive power of friendship.