Last week I received a box of books from Random House. As always I was excited, and quickly looked through to see what had come. It was filled with great choices. My eyes focused Summer at Forsaken Lake by Michael D. Biel. I read the inside flap; and figured I had finally found my first read aloud. After about 20 pages I realized, nope not this one. (I should have read the press release page in the box.) However, by the time I knew it wasn’t right for my class I was already hooked; and I couldn’t put the book down.
Nicholas Mettleson is the main character. He and his twin sisters have to spend summer vacation at their great uncles house on Forsaken Lake. Their dad is a doctor with Doctors Without Borders, and their mom is a very busy executive. Nicholas’ dad spent summers in Ohio with his uncle Will, and feels that it is time his kids do the same. As you can imagine the three siblings are not thrilled. However, just like I did with the book they quickly find that the summer at the lake looks to be quite an adventure.
Nicholas makes friends with Charlie, a tomboy that throws a wicked curve ball. As the friendship grows they find that there is a mystery that links Nicholas’ dad to Charlie’s mom. While solving the mystery they become excellent sailors and boat builders.
As I read Summer at Forsaken Lake I was very nostalgic for summers past. Funny thing is I never spent a summer at the lake. I do have many friends that did. Coming from a dry, land locked, state lakes are scarce and really more ponds. My friends talk fondly of summers in Wisconsin, New York, Michigan, Minnesota and one even talks about the Cape and Maine. So I have a clear idea of what it must have been like. At times I forgot that the book was newly published. There were elements that made it seem like the book was written when I was a kid, but in Mr. Beil mentioned something very 21st century to remind the reader that this book is current. I think this is why I couldn’t put the book down. He kept it interesting and fun.
As I mentioned earlier this book is not right for a third grade read aloud, but is for high fourth, fifth and above. There is nothing that screams don’t let young kids her this story. It is just that the budding friendship between Nicholas and Charlie is more mature then 8 year-old friendships.
All I can tell you is I think it would have been fun to spend a summer at Forsaken Lake.