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The Summer We Turned Green by William Sutcliffe

Title: The Summer We Turned Green

Author: William Sutcliffe

Genre: Contemporary, Climate Fiction

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Published: 28th September 2021

Format: Paperback

Pages: 352

Price: $16.99

Synopsis: It’s the summer holidays, and thirteen-year-old Luke has just had his life turned upside down. First his older sister Rose moved ‘across the road’ – where a community of climate rebels are protesting the planned airport expansion – and now his dad’s gone too. Dad only went to get Rose back, but he’s out there building totem poles out of old furniture and wearing sandals and drinking mead (whatever that is) with the best of them …

Luke is determined to save his dad, his sister AND his summer. So how does he find himself at the top of a tree refusing to leave until the bulldozers stand down?

A fresh, funny, heartfelt look at this generation’s must-win battle: one earth, one chance.


Summer holidays, 2019 – Luke’s sister, Rose, has scarpered from home to move into a commune across the road. His parents are devastated with her act of rebellion and with her joining the climate rebels setting up a protest a local airport expansion – and soon, Luke’s father has moved across the road, and a young girl named Sky from the commune has started coming over to Luke’s house, fascinated by his life and slowly, they become friends. Like wants to save his family and his summer – but there are also more important things like his new friend Sky and an ideal that both sides might eventually come together to stop the expansion – and in the most surprising ways possible.

I was sent this to review unsolicited – and sometimes, the books I don’t ask for can be quite surprising. I wasn’t sure about this one at first – even though it has an important message. It was more the dates and setting that had me worried that COVID might hit at some point, and I’ve been trying to avoid stories that feature COVID – it will appear at some stage, but there’s something nice about not having to deal with it in fiction at all or too much whilst we are still living through it in many ways throughout the world. However, this focus of this book was on the climate action that we’re been seeing in the past few years, and the power of grass roots movements, younger people, and those we might not agree with – those who appear to be on the fringes of what society deems acceptable.

What this book represented was the power of community, family, and friends – and the ability to share ideas and change the world, even if in the end, the changes are forced by unforeseen circumstances like a worldwide pandemic. This story is about a family struggling to find themselves in a changing world, where new and old ideas collide, and is written in an accessible way, giving the kids who want a voice one where they might feel that they do not have one in today’s society.

This might not always be a book I would naturally be drawn to, but it is one that will have a passionate following, and that has a gentle feeling whilst having a powerful message behind it and giving kids characters that they can relate to in the books that they read – and show them that the world they know is represented. It shows that we can change our ideas and opinions, and come to terms with new ideas, new people, and an everchanging world. That there is no right way of doing everything, and sometimes, the best way to deal with things is to compromise and find a way to make things work in the best way that you can for you and your family – and still do what you can to uphold your beliefs.

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